The Return of the Trumpeter Swan

The story of trumpeter swan restoration in the Blackfoot is one of hope, collaboration, and overcoming tough odds.

During his return trip east, Meriwether Lewis recorded the presence of a pair of trumpeter swans at the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clearwater Rivers in July of 1806. After the feather trade decimated swans throughout the continent, there were no records of resident swans in the Blackfoot until 2003, when a pair of trumpeters nested on a wetland east of Lincoln. Unfortunately, the female swan was killed by a collision with a powerline. The quick-thinking landowner rescued the eggs and they were hatched by a surrogate female. This nesting attempt inspired a restoration project, and starting in 2005 captive-reared trumpeter swans have been released in the Blackfoot every year.

In 2019, the Blackfoot Challenge partnered with student filmmakers through the International Wildlife Film Festival’s LABS project to create a short film capturing the Blackfoot watershed’ trumpeter swan restoration story. Our gratitude goes out to the students who worked tirelessly to make this film, as well as the storytellers who lived this story and shared it with all of us.