Trumpeter Swan Advocates and Federal Government Reach Settlement over Sport Hunting of Rare Birds

The Fund for Animals, the Biodiversity

Legal Foundation, the Utah Environmental Congress, and

individual plaintiffs announced that they have reached a

settlement with the federal government in their lawsuit

challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) highly

controversial sport hunting season of rare trumpeter swans.

The trumpeter swan is the largest waterfowl species in the

world, with a wingspan of seven to eight feet. The tri-state

population of Rocky Mountain trumpeter swans is a distinct

sub-population with only about 350 remaining birds and 70

breeding pairs, and is the subject of a pending emergency

petition for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The

imperiled trumpeter swan is already listed on the FWS’s

“Birds of Management Concern” list, a registry of bird species

that “are likely to become candidates for listing under the

Endangered Species Act.”

Under a plan approved by the FWS last year, trumpeter

swans could be killed by sport hunters in Idaho, Montana,

Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, despite the widespread

scientific consensus among trumpeter swan experts that the

hunt, in combination with other threats, posed a significant

threat to the survival and recovery of the species. The

hunting of similar-looking tundra swans also continued.

According to Andrea Lococo, Rocky Mountain coordinator for

The Fund for Animals, “A sport hunting season on seriously

imperiled trumpeter swans was biologically reckless and

legally flawed. The federal government not only failed to list

the trumpeter swan as endangered or threatened due to

triage with agency funds, but then also decided to play

Russian roulette with the last remaining trumpeter swans by

allowing a sport hunting season.”

In the settlement, the FWS agreed not to authorize the

hunting of trumpeter swans in the Pacific Flyway until it has

prepared a new Environmental Assessment, which will

reconsider the biological issues of hunting trumpeter swans.

The EA will be released by April 20, and the public will have

30 days to comment.

Added Jasper Carlton, executive director of the Biodiversity

Legal Foundation, “The government’s first EA was

inadequate, and it should have never given hunters a license

to hunt a population that is clearly biologically endangered.

A new EA, and a new chance for public comments, is a

victory for trumpeter swans and for the public.”

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