An eight-foot wingspan, long legs and a graceful neck — the trumpeter swans in Kenue Park are a lovely sight.
The two rehabilitated trumpeter swans live year-round on the wetland viewable from the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.
“We have both a male and female trumpeter swan on our wetland, and they are flightless so they live here year-round,” said Kiley Roth, community relations coordinator for the Dickinson County Conservation Board. “We have an aerator that keeps a section of open water in the winter, and we supplement their food as well.”
The trumpeter swans are not only beautiful, but they help to teach the story of swan population decrease and recovery in Iowa.
After the settlement of Iowa, the last wild nesting trumpeter swan was documented in 1883 in Hancock County. By the 1930s, a nationwide swan count showed only 69 trumpeter swans resided in the United States, despite federal protection given in 1918 with the International Migratory Bird Treaty signed by Canada, the United States and Mexico.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources developed a plan to bring trumpeter swans back to the state in 1993. Trumpeter swans were obtained from zoos, private propagators, other state swan projects and other sources and were re-introduced into Iowa.
By 1998, three cygnets hatched from a wild nesting pair in Dubuque County, and the same pair hatched five cygnets in 1999 and again in 2000. Plus, more than 4,000 observations of Iowa banded trumpeter swans were reported to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Due to the program’s success, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources began to phase out the trumpeter swan restoration program after 18 years.
“The Dickinson County Conservation Board introduced rehabilitated trumpeter swans to Kenue Park about five years ago, and they are a wonderful addition to the wildlife that can be viewed here,” Roth said. “Climb the observation tower, walk out onto the wetland dock or walk up to the kame to the overlook for a beautiful view of the swans swimming on the wetland.”
In addition to trumpeter swans, Kenue Park also boasts the Dickinson County Nature Center, mowed and paved trails, the Nature Playscape, geocaching, the Okoboji Gold Disc Golf Course and the Westport Schoolhouse.
For more information on trumpeter swans or Kenue Park, visit www.dickinsoncountyconservationboard.com or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up on the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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