June 24, 2002 at 4:18 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 3:40 AM
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A record number of trumpeter swans hatched this year in the state with more are possibly on the way.
Ohio appears to be successfully reintroducing the trumpeter swan -- a majestic white bird that is the largest waterfowl in the state, with a wingspan of nearly 8 feet.
Thirty-six young swans, called cygnets, hatched this year, said Dave Sherman of the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Another nine pairs of Ohio swans have bonded but not yet built nests or laid eggs.
Last year, 31 cygnets hatched, a previous high, he said.
"Charismatic mega-fauna, like the trumpeter swans, are wonderful species to reintroduce," said John Ritzenthaler, a spokesman from the National Audubon Society's Ohio office. "They are wonderful to see and a great showcase. The public loves showy birds."
In the last six years, Ohio has released about 130 trumpeter swans, joining other Midwest states and Ontario in reintroducing the birds.
Trumpeter swans once lived in much of the northern third of North America. But by the early 1930s, the bird was nearly wiped out, with only 69 left in the lower 48 states.
The swans were killed for their meat and their plumage, which was used to make powder puffs, quill pens and decorations on hats and clothing.
Today, there are nearly 24,000 trumpeter swans, with the greatest number in Alaska and Canada.
Ohio released its first 15 swans in May 1996 at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Ottawa County.
Those first birds came from private breeders and zoos, as well as eggs collected in Alaska by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)