Protected species of swan shot down, found injured in Youngstown

The young swan is recovering Wednesday night at the Birds in Flight Sanctuary in Howland


HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Wildlife officials are investigating after a trumpeter swan was found shot, laying in the middle of a Youngstown road. Trumpeter swans are a protected species in Ohio, making it illegal to shoot them.

The young swan is recovering Wednesday night at the Birds in Flight Sanctuary in Howland. It is receiving treatment for lead poisoning and other physical ailments after it was found with two pellet wounds two days ago.

It was actually a snow plow driver who spotted the animal laying in the middle of Salt Springs Road. He thought it was a Canada goose at first but when he realized it was a swan, he called Youngstown police, who called Birds in Flight for help.

“It was shivering so we immediately put it in the van, and covered in blankets and turned on the heat so he was able to get warm,” Heather Merritt said.

She spotted a hole in its head and took the swan to a vet right away. X-rays there showed glowing in the gizzard, which indicates some type of metal. The X-ray revealed two pellets in the bird’s head and abdomen.

Since trumpeter swans are a protected species, that raised a red flag and got the Ohio Division of Wildlife involved.

“If somebody who is legally shooting at the swan and misidentified it, it shouldn’t have lead either way, it should have steel,” Tom Frank said. “Preliminarily, what she found, it appears as if it was lead so there’s definitely a couple things wrong there.”

There are a lot of unknowns in this case, including where it was shot and how it got to Salt Springs Road.

“Unfortunately, it’s one of those cases that we would classify as inactive, meaning we don’t have enough information to do anything more with it yet but it’s obviously a violation,” said Tom Frank, with the Division of Wildlife.

Merritt is optimistic about the bird’s recovery.

“It’s doing very, very well and I’m very encouraged by the way it’s acting,” she said.

Officers with the Division of Wildlife are investigating. If you have information on the case, call their tipline at 1-800-POACHER.

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