Game commission investigating shooting of three protected trumpeter swans

By: - November 8, 2023 2:54 pm

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is seeking who is responsible for the killing of three, protected trumpeter swans south of Harrison. (Courtesy of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)

LINCOLN — State conservation officers are investigating the recent killing of three trumpeter swans in northwest Nebraska’s Sioux County.

The swans, which are a designated “at-risk” species that is not to be hunted, were found dead from gunshots on Friday near the junction of Nebraska Highway 29 and River Road, south of Harrison, according to Conservation Officer Josh Widhelm of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The site is the entrance to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument along the Niobrara River.

A white bird with a black bill, black legs and black feet, trumpeter swans have an 8-foot wingspan and are North America’s largest species of waterfowl.

A pair of trumpeter swans on a private pond west of North Platte in Lincoln County. (Courtesy of Nebraskaland Magazine/ Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)

The species was nearly driven to extinction in the early 20th century, according to a press release from Game and Park, but conservation efforts have been successful. Many breeding pairs have taken up residence in the Sandhills, and others migrate through Nebraska in the spring and fall.

Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to call the Nebraska Wildlife Crimestoppers hotline at 800-742-7627 or report online to the

Reports are anonymous. Information that leads to prosecution for a wildlife violation may be eligible for a reward.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.