SUNRIVER, Ore. - The Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory said it was deeply saddened to announce Friday that Chuck, a male trumpeter swan that has resided on Lake Aspen in Sunriver since 2013, was illegally shot on Thursday and fatally wounded.
Chuck, together with his mate, Gracie, and their four cygnets had left their nesting area and were exploring outside of Lake Aspen for the past week, officials said.
Although they are wild, the swans are also flightless and generally only move among the waterways in Sunriver. Sunriver Nature Center staff said they had been monitoring their location and working to recover the swans to return them to Lake Aspen.
On Thursday afternoon, the Nature Center said it received reports of an injured swan about two miles downriver from Lake Aspen in Sunriver.
Sunriver Police Sgt. Joe Patnode said they were contacted by a concerned Sunriver citizen, who reported the injured swan was just just north of Gannett Lane.
Sunriver officers located the swan and with help from SNC staff recovered the bird just west of Siskin Lane.
Staff from the Nature Center were able to retrieve 11-year-old Chuck and transport him to a veterinarian for examination.
However, after extensive consultation with experts, it was decided that Chuck’s injuries were beyond repair and that intervention would cause further suffering for the swan. He was humanely euthanized, officials said.
Sunriver Nature Center has been in contact with Sunriver Police, Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and will assist them in their investigation.
Patnode said Sunriver police will work with the OSP Fish and Game Division to investigate the killing.
Swans are a protected species, officials said, and it is illegal to hunt them in Oregon.
Patnode urged anyone with information about the shooting to contact Sunriver police at 541-593-1014. He said Sunriver police expect a reward will be posted for information leading to prosecution of whoever is responsible. Tips also can be forwarded to the OSP Tip Line at 1-800-452-7888.
Chuck and Gracie were placed at Lake Aspen as part of a breeding program supported by ODFW to reintroduce trumpeter swans in the area.
Their first successful breeding attempt produced two cygnets in 2016, which were subsequently transferred to Summer Lake Wildlife Area. This year’s cygnets will spend the winter in Sunriver and be transferred to Summer Lake next spring, nature center officials said.