Trumpeter swans that have been transplanted in eastern Idaho may show up anywhere in the lower tier of the state and hunters must be careful not to shoot them, Fish and Game officials say.
Waterfowl hunters must distinguish the huge white birds from snow geese or other species that can be hunted. Trumpeters are even larger than the more common tundra swans. Both swans are nearly pure white with white wingtips.
Snow geese are much smaller and have black wingtips.
The trumpeter swan has become relatively rare in the Intermountain West. Most of the remnant population lived in or near Yellowstone Park until trapping and transplanting began in 1988 to disperse its growing numbers.
Biologists were worried trumpeters were vulnerable if a disaster such as a harsh winter struck that area.
Trumpeters are usually trapped during the dark of the moon in the fall and winter. Recently, 34 were taken from Harriman State Park and released on the Bear River near Preston. More will be trapped in December if conditions are right.
Trumpeters have been trapped in the Island Park area and freed in other parts of Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming and Utah. More than 1,400 swans have been moved and have been seen in the West, western Canada and Mexico.
Biologists still want to know more about their dispersal and are asking for help from wildlife observers.
Transplanted trumpeters have been neck-banded and some marked with pink dye. Each band carries a unique letter-number code and can be colored green, red, yellow or white.
Anyone seeing a band should record it carefully, along with time and location and report it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Pocatello.