National Wildlife Refuge System

Record Numbers of Swans at Seedskadee Refuge, WY


Tree Recycle
A record 303 trumpeter swans were counted at Seedskadee Refuge, WY, in February.
Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

March 5, 2014 - A record 303 trumpeter swans were counted on or near Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming last month. The swans have been wintering on the refuge in increasing numbers in recent years.

Trumpeter swans were once abundant throughout North America as far north as Alaska and as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. They were hunted nearly to extinction for their meat and feathers and for a time, the only trumpeter swan population lived in Yellowstone National Park.  Conservation efforts began in the 1930s with the establishment of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. In the 1990s, several dozen swans were brought to Seedskadee Refuge  and the population began to grow, appreciative of the abundant open water, submerged aquatic vegetation and minimal human disturbance.

In the winter, additional swans come to the refuge from Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Canada.  Project leader Tom Koerner says some trumpeter swans are moving from the Snake River drainage area to the Green River. “In the event of severe winters,” says Koerner, “having the swans spread in multiple locations reduces the impacts on the habitat and saves more individual swans.” 

Koerner notes that “people put a lot of energy into bringing trumpeter swans back to Wyoming and it has been rewarding to watch that happen. They are an iconic species. You don’t have to convince people to like trumpeter swans. They are cool birds and most people can instantly recognize them.”

The refuge continues to work with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as well as the Wind River Indian Reservation to protect and expand the population of trumpeter swans on Seedskadee Refuge.  

The name Seedskadee originated from the Shoshone word “Sisk-a-dee-agie” meaning “river of the prairie hen.”  The 27,230 acre refuge protest riparian, wetland an d upland shrub habitat along the Green River in southwest Wyoming. The refuge is open to hunting, fishing, boating, and hiking. More on activities here.

SFGate/Casper Star-Tribune article

Last updated: March 7, 2014