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Saving the Trumpeter Swan and Hawaiian Goose: Recovery Programs Stacy Lackey.

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Presentation on theme: "Saving the Trumpeter Swan and Hawaiian Goose: Recovery Programs Stacy Lackey."— Presentation transcript:

1 Saving the Trumpeter Swan and Hawaiian Goose: Recovery Programs Stacy Lackey

2 Trumpeter Swan Biology Has a white body, black bill, and a long neck that is held straight in flight Eat aquatic plants, insects, snails Usually mate for life Build a big and bulky nest of reeds, rushes, roots and grasses lined with down Female lays 5-6 eggs in May and incubates for 32 days “Cygnets” stay in nest only until they can thermoregulate their temperature They have very little food reserve and must start feeding quickly Male and Female molt at different times so one will always be able to stay with the cygnets

3 Similar Species Trumpeter swan has a size of ’’ and is the largest swan in the world, weighing up to 35 lbs Similar to the Trumpeter are the Tundra and Mute swans The Tundra sometimes has a yellow spot on its bill, but is overall smaller at ’’ Mute has an orange bill and ranges in size from ’’ Tundra Swan Mute Swan

4 History of Trumpeter Swans Trumpeter Swans were once fairly common throughout most of the northern United States and Canada Trumpeters nested in Minnesota and Wisconsin until the 1880s The Trumpeters' historic breeding range reached from western Nebraska to central Michigan. It extended as far north and east as James Bay in Canada Market hunting and the millinery trade rapidly depleted nesting populations during the 19th century In the 1930’s, there were only 69 Trumpeter Swans remaining in the continental U.S.

5 Early Findings By 1900, it was widely believed that the species had become extinct Fortunately, a small nonmigratory population survived in the remote mountain valleys of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming Two nests were found in Yellowstone National Park in 1919; and in 1932, 69 Trumpeters were documented in the region We now know that a population of several thousand Trumpeters also survived in remote parts of Alaska and Canada Passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 gave protection to trumpeter swans and other birds and helped curb illegal killing

6 USFWS Recovery In 1935, the U.S. government established Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana's Centennial Valley to protect the remnant Trumpeter population Managed by the USFWS, habitat conditions quickly improved when refuge personnel restricted livestock grazing and hay cutting in the marshes, protected the muskrat population, provided winter food, controlled predators, and more recently prohibited the use of lead shot and lead fishing sinkers because of the danger of lead poisoning With protection at Red Rock Lakes and in Yellowstone National Park, the Tri-state subpopulation, as it is now known, increased to 640 birds by the late 1950s In an attempt to expand their range and chances of survival, Trumpeters have been transplanted to locations with suitable habitat

7 USFWS Recovery, cont. Between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s, the Tri-state subpopulation declined. Productivity plunged in the late 1970s, and by 1986 only 392 birds remained Concern over the decline led to an extensive study that demonstrated a close relationship between swan survival and the availability of winter foods at Red Rock Lakes In 1987 and 1988, marked increases in supplemental winter grain coupled with favorable weather led to a dramatic increase in the number of cygnets produced at areas in and adjacent to Red Rock Lakes In 1989, there were 565 birds in the Tristate Subpopulation Many other recovery programs were initiated, especially those in the midwestern states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wisconsin has been the most successful of the three

8 Wisconsin Recovery Prior to 1987, it had been 100 years since a Trumpeter had reproduced in Wisconsin Beginning in 1987, Wisconsin biologists flew to Alaska for nine consecutive years to collect Trumpeter eggs, then were hatched in incubators at the Milwaukee County Zoo. After they hatched, the young swans were either placed in a captive rearing program or decoy rearing program until they were released to the wild. The original goal was to establish 20 breeding pairs by 2000, and in 2004, there were 80 pairs They continue to captive and brood- rear cygnets and release them back into the wild, in hopes of re- establishing their old numbers.

9 Threats to Restoration They are vulnerable to illegal shooting, since they look so similar to other species that can be hunted Collisions with power lines Predators: Snapping turtles, great horned owls, racoons and minks which steal the eggs and kill the young Lead poisoning Widespread destruction and degredation of wetlands They must compete for food in these small areas with other migratory trumpeters and birds that live there all year. As a result, some birds may be in poor condition by spring. They lack energy for migration, egg laying and incubation Other problems include funding, human disturbance and recreational development in nesting areas

10 Management For management purposes, Trumpeters are divided into populations based on their range About 1,000 Trumpeters occur in western Canada and include birds that migrate to the Tri-state area. Many of these-swans nest in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Together with summer resident Tri-state swans, these birds comprise the Rocky Mountain Population There are nearly 12,000 Trumpeter Swans in Alaska. These birds, combined with western Canadian flocks and restoration flocks from western refuges, comprise the Pacific Coast Population A third population, the Interior Population, is made up of flocks east of the Rocky Mountains and numbers about 500 birds.

11 The Trumpeter Today Once considered for federal 'endangered' status, the Trumpeter is not officially listed as threatened or endangered In the Midwest, however, it is actually more rare than the threatened Bald Eagle It has no official state status in Midwestern states, except in Wisconsin, where it is listed as an endangered species, and in Michigan, where it is a threatened species Today, estimates show about 16,000 trumpeter swans reside in North America They are an overall success story, and their outlook is bright

12 Why worry? It is one of the rarest waterfowl in North America, and the largest Environmental stability Aesthetics To many people, the Trumpeters are the “embodiment of grace, beauty, and unspoiled wildness”

13 Hawaiian Goose Biology Also known as Nene or Lava Geese Are extremely friendly and approachable Front and sides of neck appear to have black and white stripes Unlike all other geese, the Nene has semi-palmate feet One of the smaller geese, range from 21– 26 ’’ Winter breeding season: From November to March Nest 2-5 white eggs in a “kipuka” Nests are down-lined, concealed well under bushes, and usually in the same area

14 Biology, cont. Feeds on both native and introduced plants and herbs and their seeds, buds, flowers and fruits Habitat includes scrublands, grasslands, golf courses, sparsely vegetated slopes, lowland areas Only waterfowl adapted for life on lava flows, and are mostly found in the rugged lava fields Only found in Hawaii Does not need fresh water, but will use it when available Variety of calls from soft and conversational to loud and honking to “moo-”ing when distressed

15 The Struggle of the Nene An estimated 25,000 Hawaiian geese used to inhabit the Hawaiian islands in the time of Captain James Cook Europeans arrived in 1778 and their numbers began to immediately decline Their approachability became their downfall They were overharvested to feed those out in California exploring and to feed people on whaling expeditions The mongoose was introduced in 1883 Geese made easy targets and the mongoose preyed on eggs, chicks, and adults

16 Nene Struggle, cont. Hunting was allowed during the winter breeding seasons of the Hawaiian goose, when they are most vulnerable This continued until the 1940’s Only birds remained in 1949 In 1950, a few were taken into captivity and by 1957, many conservation efforts were underway

17 Early Recovery Programs Conservationists began breeding birds in captivity Early programs for returning geese to wild proved very difficult, and the Nene was listed as an endangered species in 1967 under the Federal Endangered Species Act There were constant releases in the beginning, but when releases were reduced in the 1970’s, the population declined sharply from 875 geese in 1977 to 400 in 1980 This suggested that releasing captive-bred geese had kept the population artificially high Other factors of the declines included: low productivity due to poor available nutrition Hawaiian Geese are also extremely vulnerable to predation by introduced species such as the mongoose, rats, dogs, cats, and pigs Much more work was needed to identify and remedy the causes for the Nene's decline.

18 Recent Recovery Programs Between 1980 and 1989, various research and conservation initiatives were carried out in Hawaii. The initiatives eventually culminated in the Nene Recovery Initiative, a five year research program implemented by the Nene Recovery Action Group, with members from the Hawaiian Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Hawaiian National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, University of North Dakota, Smithsonian Institute and Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. The Nene Recovery Initiative had the goal of re-introducing the Nene and for it to become self-sustaining in the wild and had five objectives

19 Nene Recovery Initiative Objectives 1.To continue investigating the causes of the Hawaiian Geese low productivity and survival rates 2.To investigate the success and cost of various management practices in current habitats which increase the productivity and survival rates of the Hawaiian Goose and to identify additional habitats that provide more of the Nene's requirements 3.To assess release techniques by collecting data from intensive monitoring of released individuals and to further research birds in captivity 3.To produce an agreed Management & Monitoring Plan for the Hawaiian Goose within the first 5-year phase and to stipulate the means by which the plan could continue to be evaluated and enhanced until it becomes self-sustaining without further releases. 5. To make the findings available and communicate them to all of the public

20 The results? These objectives were implemented through three work programs involving 13 studies in total: Management Research (5 projects) Aviculture and Release Research (5 projects) Long-term Monitoring (3 studies) This work demonstrated that five from the eight sub- populations on Hawaii were not self-sustaining due to a variety of causes, including: Low gosling survival Poor foraging conditions Predation by introduced predators (rats, cats, dogs, pigs, mongoose) Road fatalities - about 10 Nenes are run over by cars in Hawaii every year

21 The Hawaiian Goose Recovery Plan Every Endangered species has to have a recovery plan Published in 1983 It outlines the essential elements to accomplish a goal of establishing 2,000 geese on Hawaii and 250 on Maui These elements are to: 1.Minimize the mortality rate in the wild 2.Continue release of captive- bred birds 3.To protect and improve habitat where the Nene can maintain their populations naturally

22 The Nene today Under some of the first captive breeding efforts for an endangered species, the bird's extinction has been prevented. Using new information and techniques, this work has succeeded in establishing new populations Now, some 1,100 Nene inhabit Hawaii, Maui, Molokai and Kauai. Currently, Hawaiian Geese are being raised in captivity at the Maui Bird Conservation Center at Olinda and the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center on the Big Island. Young birds are then released into protected habitats by the State The Wildfowl Trust in England also plays a major role, distributing Nene’s to zoos, aviaries, and the wild

23 What should be done and why? Substantial captive populations ensure the future survival of the Nene, but further effort is needed to conserve wild populations Most importantly, birds need to be able to survive in Hawaii without the continued release of captive-bred birds Future conservation priorities for the Nene are currently being drafted in the USFWS revised Nene Recovery Plan Further financial and community support The Nene is the state bird of Hawaii, and its residents are very fond of the goose Aesthetic values It’s unique characteristics Environmental stability It is the 8 th most endangered waterfowl species in the world

24 Sources se%20recovery‘http://www.edf.org/documents/3738_species_Nene.pdf#search='hawaiian%20goo se%20recovery

25 QUESTIONS?


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