Trumpeter Swan Conference in Duncan next week

The North American Trumpeter Swan Society’s 24th Annual Conference will be held in Duncan Nov. 16 to 18.

The North American Trumpeter Swan Society’s 24th Annual Conference will be held in Duncan Nov. 16 to 18.

“This is a very special event for the Cowichan Valley,” says Paul Fletcher, president of Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society. “Experts in swan research and management from throughout North America will be coming to our community. We are honoured to be able to partner with The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS)  to bring this important event to the valley and to hold it in the Cowichan Tribe’s beautiful Quw’utsun’ Culture and Conference Centre.”

The trumpeter swan, the largest waterfowl in North America once flourished across much of the continent. By 1900 they were nearly extinct. In recent decades, trumpeters have begun to recover due to the partnerships and passion of many people, organizations and agencies.

The society has been North America’s leader of trumpeter swan conservation since 1968. For nearly 50 years, TTSS has played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the trumpeter swan population by providing expert science-based technical support in most of the major restoration programs.

“TTSS’s vibrant ‘swan network’ of researchers, swan managers, and biologists have gathered and shared the best science-based information and research to help bring back the trumpeter swan in areas where they have not been seen in more than a century,” said Margaret Smith, society executive director.

The result of all these efforts is reflected in the continued recovery of the trumpeter swan population to an estimated 46,000 in 2010.

“But the trumpeter swan population is not out of the woods yet,” says Fletcher. “The swans face several threats including climate change, loss of habitat, new diseases, lead poisoning and loss of winter habitat, which brings us to the Cowichan Valley.

“The overwintering population of trumpeter swans in the Cowichan Valley has been trending upwards over the years and has been as high as 1,000 in recent years, which is why we chose ‘Swans and Agriculture. Working together’ as the theme for this year’s conference.”

This theme holds special significance as concerns expressed by local farmers over crop depredation have grown in lockstep with the overwintering swan population in the Cowichan Valley as swans are moving into farmers’ fields as the food supply is exhausted on their former marsh and wetland feeding grounds.

A feature of this year’s conference will be a panel discussion on Wednesday evening, Nov. 16; the panel will include an impacted farmer, swan researchers and wildlife managers.

In addition, there will be an all-day field trip on Nov. 17, and a gala banquet on Friday, Nov. 18, with keynote speaker Robert Bateman, one of Canada’s most renowned wildlife artists.

People are encouraged register early for this conference. For more information, go to www.trumpeterswansociety.org/2016-conference.html

Prices on the TTSS website are in American dollars. To register through the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society in Canadian Dollars go to http://wildwingsfestival.com/?page_id=17 and click on the individual events in the calendar.