Support Reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans in the Madison Valley | Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

Support Reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans in the Madison Valley

Please respond by May 18 – do it today!

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is taking comments on a proposed five-year extension to its Trumpeter Swan reintroduction program in the Madison River Valley south of Ennis. Specifically:

  • For the last five years, a small number of Trumpeter Swans have been released annually into the Madison Valley. FWP is proposing to extend this reintroduced program for another five years.
  • The ultimate goal is to reestablish five pairs of breeding trumpeters in this river valley, a place where these birds historically nested.
  • The birds that are released are 70-day old young trumpeters (called cygnets) that were raised in captivity at a facility in Jackson, Wyoming.
  • The program is modeled after the successful trumpeter reintroduction program in the Blackfoot Valley.

PLEASE take the time TODAY to send FWP comments for Trumpeter Swan reintroduction.


IMG_4479 - smallWrite Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks TODAY to tell then that you support a 5-year extension for their program to reintroduce Trumpeter Swans to the Madison Valley. This reintroduction work is designed to reestablish breeding swans into this part of their historic range. Comments must be received by Thursday, May 18, 2017.  There are two easy ways to send your comments:

  • E-mail: [email protected].
  • Letter:  Claire Gower, Native Species Biologist, FWP Region 3, 1400 South 19th Ave, Bozeman, MT 59718


To: Ms. Claire Gower, Native Species Biologist, MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Region 3, 1400 South 19th Ave, Bozeman, MT 59718

Dear Ms. Gower,

I am writing to support the proposal by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks to extend the Trumpeter Swan reintroduction program in the Madison Valley for five more years. I support this reintroduction effort because:IMG_4466 - smalll

  • I’m excited that Montana is striving to reestablish breeding trumpeters into areas they occupied historically. According to several habitat evaluations, the Madison Valley has excellent habitat for breeding trumpeters.
  • Reintroduction efforts have been going on for five years in the Madison Valley already. Similar efforts in places like the Blackfoot and Flathead valleys, which have also worked to reintroduce trumpeters, took 6-7 years for these birds to start breeding in a new area. Therefore, it makes sense to keep this program going by adding a small number of new birds to this population every year for an additional five years.
  • Montana has a great, historic role to play in Trumpeter Swan recovery efforts. As you probably know, in the 1930s, the last remaining trumpeters in the world were found in the Red Rock Lakes area. I support the work of FWP to continue working to reestablishing this iconic bird in locations where they historically nested in Montana.

Keep up the good work! And thank you for the opportunity to comment.


*Helpful Hint: Letters, whether print or email, are more effective if you alter the introductory sentence and/or personalize the letter in some way.


  1. This program has been going on for 5 years—and an extension makes sense. Swans have been reintroduced as part of the Madison Valley O’Dell Creek restoration project since 2012 (2012-2016). The project is modeled after a successful trumpeter reintroduction program in the Blackfoot Valley of Montana. In the Blackfoot, releases of captive-reared trumpeters began in 2005 resulting in nesting by two wild pairs in 2011 and reaching a high of seven nesting pairs in 2016. The proposed Madison program has a goal of reestablishing five nesting pairs in the valley. To date no nesting pairs exist in the valley, but reintroduction efforts over the next five years (2017-2021) should give breeding trumpeters adequate time to reestablish themselves.
  1. Reestablishing Trumpeter Swans to an historic breeding area is important. Trumpeter Swans historically nested throughout much of western Montana, including the Madison Valley. Today only Canadian trumpeters winter in the area—there are no known nesting pairs. The release site near the O’Dell Creek Headwaters south of Ennis is excellent habitat, with an 8,000-acre area of extensive wetlands, spring creeks, streams, and riparian areas that are under perpetual protection by a FWP conservation easement. In addition, this area has undergone habitat evaluations by both the MT Natural Heritage Program and the University of Montana Avian Science Center for six years, showing that aquatic vegetation that can support breeding trumpeters is increasing, and that this vegetation will also support the growing populations of other breeding waterfowl in the area.Trumpeter Swan Pair3_small
  1. Breeding sites for Trumpeter Swans need to be reestablished. While the U.S. portion of the Rocky Mountain population of trumpeters is slowly reaching population level objectives, successful breeding areas are few and far between. For that reason, it is important to restore breeding populations in historic range. Trumpeter Swans are considered a Species of Concern in Montana, meaning they are “at-risk” due to declining population trends, threats to their habitats, restricted distribution, or other factors. Because these birds exhibit strong year-to-year fidelity to previous nest sites, and they are very sensitive to human disturbance (which causes nest failures and cygnet losses), their population is vulnerable to declines.
  1. Montana loves Trumpeter Swans! Montana has been instrumental in the recovery of Trumpeter Swans from the brink of extinction. In 1932, fewer than 70 trumpeters were known to exist worldwide—with the majority of those birds found breeding in southwestern Montana in the Centennial Valley. Because this area played a critical role in saving these rare birds, Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935. Today, estimates show over 46,000 trumpeter swans reside in North America, with about 500 birds in the tri-state area of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana (including the Red Rock Lakes refuge flock). Montana is proud of its role to protect Trumpeter Swans—and this role needs to continue until they are considered fully recovered.

As part of our River Initiative, Montana Audubon works to restore native populations of plants and wildlife along out rivers and streams.

For More Information:

Please send your comments so they are received by Thursday, May 18, 2017!

Facts About Trumpeter Swans:

Trumpeter Swan Pair - small

Size: Largest of all North American waterfowl, measure up to four feet tall, 25 lbs average weight

Food: Aquatic plants, eaten while swimming.

Habitat: Shallow ponds, marshes, lakes, slow moving rivers.

Nesting Territory Size: 3.7 and 250 acres.

Lifespan: 24 years in wild, up to 33 in captivity.

Nomenclature: Male = Cob; Female = Pen; Young = Cygnet; Group of swans = herd.

(Source: Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge)

Montana Audubon depends on your financial support

Montana Audubon Ranchers & Staff Featured in ACR Impact Report

Because ranchers value birds & biodiversity  The 2023 Audubon Conservation Ranching Impact Report is here-…

Montana ACR Pilot Project Connects Ranchers to New Market Opportunities

This winter, a pilot project went off without a hitch when 63 cull cows from…

View All Articles

Join Our Online Network

By joining our online network, you will receive timely conservation updates, action alerts, legislative news, our monthly eNews, information about upcoming events and more.

Make an Online Donation & Support Our Efforts

Montana Audubon depends on your financial support to continue our ambitious conservation work around the state.

Take Action

Take action on timely conservation issues Montana Audubon is engaged with. Your help will protect Montana’s birds and other wildlife into the future.

Montana Audubon - © Copyright 2024 All Rights Reserved