OHIO – With a surge of wingbeats, thrust of webbed feet, and splash of water, a pair of trumpeter swans lift off from one of Ohio’s wetlands. Not long ago, this iconic scene only played out on special occasions as trumpeter swans migrated through the state. However, after years of dedicated conservation work by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife and its partners, trumpeter swans once again nest in the Buckeye State.
In 2020, wildlife biologists found 98 breeding pairs of trumpeter swans in Ohio, an encouraging increase in population. These birds nested in 20 counties, including public wildlife areas such as Killdeer Plains (Wyandot County) and Big Island (Marion County). The breeding pairs produced 235 young, called cygnets, in 2020. Trumpeter swans, listed as a threatened species in Ohio, are on the road to recovery but face continued threats, including habitat loss and lead poisoning.
This work is made possible, in part, by Ohio’s annual tax donation program. This is an important way for wildlife enthusiasts to help contribute to restoring and managing endangered and threatened wildlife, including trumpeter swans. Funds from the income tax donation program go directly to projects that protect Ohio’s wildlife and natural areas. By making a tax donation to the Wildlife Diversity Fund on this year’s tax form, Ohioans are helping to ensure the future of Ohio’s ecosystems, supporting research on trumpeter swans, monarch butterflies, lake sturgeon, hellbenders, and more.
Individuals may donate all or part of their state income tax refund by entering a dollar amount for “Wildlife Species” on line 26d of the 2020 IT 1040 tax form. Contributions made on the 2020 tax return and filed in 2021 are considered deductible donations made in 2021.
Trumpeter swans have a unique life history. Thanks to large-scale habitat improvement, they’ve fought back from the brink of extinction to their current breeding population. Because trumpeter swans are dependent on high-quality wetland habitats throughout the year, conserving these spaces is key to ensuring their continued success.
Research is ongoing. Wildlife biologists from Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada are studying North America’s interior trumpeter swan population, found in the Mississippi Flyway. Swans have been fitted with solar-powered GPS collars to learn crucial information about their nesting, migration, overwintering, and habitat preferences. Researchers use this information to make conservation decisions that impact the future of trumpeter swans. Ohio’s team of biologists successfully tagged 12 adult trumpeters with GPS collars in 2020.