COLVILLE, Wash. (AP) — Birdwatchers in northeastern Washington are offering a reward to find whoever killed a rare trumpeter swan on the Colville River west of Colville.
At least $1,600 has been collected by birding groups for information leading to the arrest of whoever shot the swan on Dec. 28. The bird later had to be euthanized by a state Fish and Wildlife Department officer.
Trumpeter swans are a protected species in Washington. Birdwatchers tell The Spokesman-Review that they fear the dead bird is a swan nicknamed Solo, which for decades has been seen at the nearby Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
In June, Solo surprised everyone at the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge when he showed up with four cygnets and a mate. It’s a surprise because in swan years, Solo may be setting a record as the oldest living Trumpeter swan in the world. With the lake now frozen over, biologists haven’t seen Solo in a while and are now worried the Trumpeter swan murdered on the Colville River just after Christmas may be him.
Biologist Mike Rule says Solo usually spends the winter months nearby because he’s one of the first to return once the lake thaws. He says he’s hoping that the Colville River may actually be too far for Solo and that he didn’t go that far north.
But Rule admits, the odds aren’t in his favor. Trumpeter swans are rare in our area, especially this time of year.
As for identifying the dead swan, officials say that’s almost impossible.
The bird was bleeding and suffering in the middle of the river. Rule says he will know if it is Solo or not by spring, when he’s set to return, just as he has for decades.
People with information can call Washington's poaching hotline at (877) 933-9847 or Fish and Wildlife's Spokane office at (509) 892-1001.