The DNR takes the trumpeter swan and osprey off the endangered and threatened species lists in Wisconsin.
The population of these birds has increased over the years, thanks to recovery efforts. Sumner Matteson, avian ecologist with the DNR, recalls going to Alaska back in 1989 to collect several hundred trumpeter swan eggs. Alaska is the largest source of trumpeter eggs in North America. Matteson says the recovery goal was to have 20 breeding and migratory pairs by the year 2000.
"By the year 2000 we had 44 nesting pairs and as of 2008 we had 120 nesting pairs — far exceeding our original recover goal."
A big challenge for the swans had been — and still is — lead poisoning from spent gunshot shells. Also, power lines are the birds' enemy. Matteson says, in addition, the slow, low-flying trumpeter swans had been hunted for its meat and feathers.
Meanwhile, Osprey were listed as endangered in 1972, with fewer than 100 pairs remaining and very poor reproductive success. A major factor in the decline was DDT, and the loss of dead nest trees — or snags. Matteson says the birds adapted to make use of nontraditional homes.
"What we've seen is increasing use of cell phone towers, ball field lights, power poles, so that today we have nearly 500 nesting pairs of osprey in the state of Wisconsin."
The Natural Resources Board voted Wednesday to take the birds off of the state endangered and threatened species list, but they will continue to be protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The measure will be reviewed by the state Legislature.
Matteson says the trumpeter swan recovery and the osprey program would not be successful without funding from a variety of partnerships and hundreds of thousands of private citizens.