Two Wisconsin Species Battle Back from the Brink of Extinction
Osprey and Trumpeter Swans Return to Our State
by Helen Zhang, age 12
The trumpeter swan and the osprey have been removed from Wisconsin’s endangered species list. These birds, once on the brink of extinction, are making a very strong comeback.
By 1900, Wisconsin’s trumpeter swan population had been annihilated by hunters. During the 20th century osprey populations were devastated by DDT, a pesticide used to kill insects and weeds. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Wisconsinites decided to take action.
Between 1972 and 1993, money donated by several Wisconsin utilities helped fund a project to build two hundred osprey nest platforms. This project was successful in helping to restore the osprey population.
From 1989 to 1997, Wisconsin DNR employees reintroduced the trumpeter swan to Wisconsin. During their restoration project, they gathered 385 eggs from swans in Alaska and brought them to Wisconsin. The eggs were then hatched at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Two years later, many of these birds were released into the wild.
With help from biologists and volunteers, these two native species have made exciting returns to Wisconsin’s wild areas. In 2008, 484 pairs of osprey were discovered nesting in the state. A record 183 trumpeter swan nests were found in 2009. The revival of these two birds shows that efforts to conserve endangered species can be successful.
Although ospreys and trumpeter swans are off Wisconsin’s endangered list, both species are still at risk. They will continue to be protected by federal law to prevent future risk of extinction.
[Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]