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SELAWIK: Swan Sampling Successful in Northwest Alaska
Alaska Region, August 7, 2008
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Tundra swans stage in large groups in coastal areas of northwest Alaska. Photo by Tina Moran, 2008.
Tundra swans stage in large groups in coastal areas of northwest Alaska. Photo by Tina Moran, 2008. - Photo Credit: n/a
A newly collared swan heads off into the tundra. Photo by Tina Moran, 2008.
A newly collared swan heads off into the tundra. Photo by Tina Moran, 2008. - Photo Credit: n/a

In the continuing effort to monitor Alaska's birds for avian influenza, biologists joined forces for a third consecutive year to sample tundra swans in northwest Alaska.  Over 200 tundra swans were captured in July at four locations around Kotzebue Sound where large numbers of the birds stage in coastal areas. Crews captured the swans with dip nets from inflatable boats and float planes, then took them to shore to be tested, measured, banded, and collared.  Blood samples were collected and cloacal and oral-pharyngeal swabs were taken from each bird to test for avian influenza.  Staff from Migratory Bird Management, Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, and Koyukuk/Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge participated in the project.

This year Dr. Cheryl Scott, D.V.M from the University of California Davis, surgically implanted satellite transmitters in ten tundra swans.  Five of the transmitters were implanted into swans from breeding groups and five into swans from molting groups.  Information from the transmitters will help determine the pathways and timing of migration and the winter destination of different breeding populations of tundra swans in Alaska. Another objective of this joint study with USGS is to explore whether different breeding populations of tundra swans have a different complex of avian influenza subtypes and genotypes.

The experienced crew completed the field stage of this project quickly and efficiently.  A natural history filmmaking student accompanied the group to film the operation as part of her graduate project at Montana State University.   


Contact Info: Susan Georgette, 907-442-3799 ext 16, susan_georgette@fws.gov



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