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Sunriver swans run away after illegal, fatal shooting

After the illegal shooting of a male trumpeter swan, Chuck, on Thursday in Sunriver, the rest of the swan family — his mate, Gracie, and their four cygnets — have left the Lake Aspen area near the Sunriver Nature Center, officials said Monday amid efforts to bring them back to a safer location.

The five swans have made their way to the Deschutes River and are near Benham Falls.

Simon Wray with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with workers from the Sunriver Nature Center, have been working to get the swans back to Sunriver, since they can’t fly, due to their wings being clipped.

Wray said he fears they are getting to close to the falls, as well in danger from other natural predators around the area.

“The cygnets are also flightless, and we’re concerned for coyotes and other things potentially on the river,” Wray said Monday. “Our goal is to be able to trap them and take them to a more secure location at Sunriver,” Wray said.

Wray has been working all weekend on trying to get the swans back to the resort community.

He said where they have stopped on the river is a safe spot for them, for the time being, but he hopes to be able to get them out of there as soon as possible.

These swans are a part of an effort to reintroduce trumpeter swans to the area, so it can be dangerous to have them be so far away from their original home.

“The male that was shot and the female are a part of a captive breeding program for our trumpeter swan restoration program here in Oregon,” Wray said. “And so, to get them back up there is the best place, they’ll be fed through the wintertime.”

Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills said they are working with Oregon State Police in the investigation.

Mills said they have determined what type of gun was used to shoot the swan, but they were not ready to reveal that information amid the ongoing investigation.

He also added these birds are protected, and there are game hunting violations related to the shooting, which led veterinarians to decide it would be best to humanely euthanize Chuck.

“We have several game violations that are in play here,” Mills said. “One, swans are not a game animal, or a game bird, so there is a misdemeanor charge for that.”

Sunriver police and the Sunriver Nature Center are planning to offer a reward for anyone with information that may lead to an arrest.

Mills said he believes that after reviewing the initial findings of the investigation, it does not appear the shooting was accidental in nature.

KTVZ News Team

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