Trumpeter Swans spending their winters in Teton Valley are now a bit safer with help from the Teton Regional Land Trust and Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative.
Recently, the groups teamed up to install bird diverters on power lines near the Miller Ponds on Cedron Road. The bird diverters hang from power lines, making them more visible to the birds in flight. Power lines are a threat to many birds including the majestic white birds that spend time in Teton Valley year round. Not only do the diverters help to prevent bird deaths, they also help reduce power outages that can be caused by large birds impacting the lines. Although bird diverters have been installed on several lines throughout the Fall River service area, older models of diverters have a tendency to break off during high winds.
New bird diverters are built to withstand the gale-force winds often seen during the winter in our area. The Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) of Trumpeter Swans is an Idaho Species of Greatest Conservation Need. By 1930, commercial harvesting had reduced the once abundant Trumpeter Swan to near extinction throughout its range south of Canada. Only about 70 swans survived in the Greater Yellowstone region of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming by 1932. Trumpeter swan restoration and management programs that began in the mid-1900s in the U. S. and Canada gradually boosted trumpeter swan populations, but the RMP Trumpeter Swans still face threats from lack of winter range and habitat alteration.
Teton Valley and the lower Henry’s Fork, are key wintering areas for the 5,000 RMP Trumpeter Swans. A mid-winter count of waterfowl last year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that nearly 70% of RMP Trumpeter Swans were spending their winter in Eastern Idaho. The Teton Regional Land Trust, in partnership with landowners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management have focused land conservation and habitat restoration efforts in Teton Valley and along the lower Henry’s Fork and South Fork of the Snake River, areas that are becoming increasingly more important for wintering trumpeter swans.
The Teton Regional Land Trust is excited to begin work with its partners, starting this spring, on a Trumpeter Swan nesting project that will help swans find suitable nesting habitat, encouraging them to breed and gain fidelity to our valley.
For more information about the bird diverter project or Trumpeter Swans, you can contact the Teton Regional Land Trust at 208-354-8939 or Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative at 208-652-7431.