A Mason City man is facing charges for allegedly shooting a pair of trumpeter swans. Twenty-nine-year-old Johnny Kirkbride is accused of killing the swans on October 30 north of Nora Springs. D.N.R. conservation officer Dave Hoffman has been working to restore the trumpeter swan population in the state.
He says shootings of the protected birds are rare, but those who do kill swans are usually caught. “Many people are just outraged by the shooting of any trumpeter,” Hoffman said. “So, they’re very willing to turn those people in.”
Kirkbride, who’s charged with two counts of taking non-game species, was arrested after someone called Iowa’s “Turn In Poachers” hotline and provided a vehicle license number and other information. Hoffman says some hunters may accidentally shoot a swan, but most are shot intentionally.
He says a game warden in Texas used the term “thrill kill” to explain why someone would shoot a trumpeter swan. “The birds are just so rare…and it may just be that excitement or thrill of shooting something so rare,” Hoffman said. Trumpeter swans last nested in Iowa in 1883. They nearly disappeared from the U.S. in the 1930s.
Iowa’s restoration program was launched in 1994. “Currently, we’re up to 40 wild nesting pairs here in Iowa,” Hoffman said. Kirkbride, the man accused of killing swans near Nora Springs, is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on November 15. If convicted of the charges, he could be required to pay $1,500 restitution for each of the swans in addition to fines and court costs.
See more information on Iowa’s trumpeter swan restoration program here: www.iowadnr.gov/wildlife/files/swanrestor.html
Iowa’s Turn In Poachers hotline number is: 1-800-532-2020. Callers can remain anonymous.