Conservation officer Derrick Slutts says he investigated after getting a tip that the swan had been shot Sunday. “I was able to collect some evidence at the scene — shell casings and what not — which led me to a potential suspect. We went and interviewed the suspect and he confessed that he believed the swan was a snow goose and his two other friends had believed the same,” Slutts says.
Twenty-seven-year-old Austin McMillan of West Branch, 26-year-old Daniel Solorio-Oldenburg of Cedar Rapids and 28-year-old Mitchell Kesterson of Van Horne were each charged with one count of attempt to take wildlife and one count of abandonment of wildlife. The men were hunting ducks and Slutts says it’s mistake that should not have happened.
“They should be able to distinctly know the difference between a snow goose and a trumpeter swan. A trumpeter swan can be upwards of eight to ten feet wingspan — where a snow goose is only going to be maybe that five feet range at max. And a majority of them are only three to four foot wingspan,” according to Slutts. “There’s a large size difference.”
He says it’s a reminder to hunters to remain calm and see the target before shooting during any type of hunt. “It’s important to know what your target is in front of you before you pull that trigger,” he says. “You just need to wait and make sure you properly identify that target. Once you determine it’s a snow goose or not a snow goose, you pull that trigger — and don’t get too excited just thinking that there’s birds coming at you.”
Slutts says they recovered the swan and have a use for it. He says they are going to try and get it mounted and have offered it to county conservation boards to use for educational purposes. Trumpeter swans were very common in Iowa around the time the state was being settled, but they vanished over the decades due to excessive hunting. Conservationists began working to restore the swans in Iowa in the 1990s. Slutts says there aren’t as many trumpeter swans out there as other species of birds — but hunters need to be aware they do fly in the same areas.