In 1996 Clarke County Conservation Board and the Clarke County Chapter of Pheasants Forever began discussing becoming partners with the Iowa DNR in their Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Program. In February of 1999 the Clarke County Pheasants Forever Chapter made a $2,000 contribution to the Iowa Wildlife Fund, and the DNR delivered an adult pair of trumpeter swans to East Lake Park, where the Clarke County Conservation Board would care for them.
The Clarke County Swan Project suffered several setbacks and it was not until June of 2001 that the first three cygnets hatched at East Lake Park. In October 2001 they were banded with red plastic neck collars numbered P46, P47, and P48, and were taken to Moorland pond near Fort Dodge, where they wintered with other young swans before being released into the wild.
In June of 2002 five cygnets hatched, but one was lost in August to aspergillosis, a fungal infection of the lungs. In September four were banded with red plastic neck collars numbered 3T4, 3T5, 3T6 and 3T7, and were taken to Moorland pond.
Predators robbed the nest of several eggs during the spring of 2003, but another four cygnets hatched in June. Unfortunately one vanished without a trace, and another ingested a lead fishing sinker and died of lead poisoning. The remaining two were banded with red plastic neck collars numbered 3C6 and 3C7.
In June of 2004 five cygnets hatched, but one was late hatching and appeared to be quite weak. It was found dead two days after hatching. The other four cygnets were banded in September with the red neck collars numbered 4H6, 4H7, 4H8, and 4H9. This year the cygnets were left at East Lake Park, rather than having them suffer from stress before going into winter. The DNR plans to relocate them in early spring.
The Iowa Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Program is making slow gains, but the mortality rate of released swans has been quite high. Vandalism, power lines, and lead poisoning are the major causes of death for trumpeters. Two of the nine cygnets raised at East Lake and released into the wild have been killed by flying into power lines, P46 of the 2001 hatch, and 3T7 of the 2002. Three other free flying trumpeters that have stopped over at East Lake while migrating are known to have died from power line injuries.