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Look up in the skies for Trumpeter Swans

These majestic birds are coming back to northwest Montana and even nesting in Mission and Flathead Valley wetlands thanks to the persistent efforts of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The Tribes started reintroducing swans on the Flathead Reservation 20 years ago.

Despite their efforts, it wasn’t until eight years later, in 2004, that a pair of swans first nested in the area. As of last year, 24 pairs successfully nested, giving birth to 72 healthy cygnets.

Early in the project, swans often met their demise by hitting overhead power lines. The Tribes and Mission Valley Power began hanging on lines reflectors near key wetland areas to make them more visible to flying swans. This helped and it appears that swans are now teaching their young how to avoid the powerlines, said Dale Becker, CSKT Wildlife Program Manager.

Swans raised in the Mission Valley are expanding throughout northwest Montana, including nesting in sloughs along the Flathead River. How many are actually nesting is still in question. If you see a nesting pair, inform Dale Becker– (406) 675-2700, ext. 7278 or And consider yourself lucky!

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