Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
November 5, 1999

Mute swans back on LaVerne

by Anne Krapfl
Iowa State's experiment in raising trumpeter swans ended Oct. 26 when the two birds were replaced with a pair of 1 1/2-year-old mute swans. The new Lancelot and Elaine are a gift from Gene Barrick, an Iowa State alumnus ('72, animal science) who farms and raises swans as a hobby. The trumpeter pair will make its new home on a pond at the B7 Ranch, Barrick's Webster County hobby ranch.

Iowa State received its pair of trumpeter swans in October 1995 as part of the state Department of Natural Resources' program to return the native bird to the state. Trumpeters thrived in Iowa until the mid-1800s, when wetlands were drained to make more room for agriculture. Trumpeters thrive in areas of open water.

The mechanical aeration system that was installed in Lake LaVerne after it was cleaned four years ago keeps the water from icing over at the west end of the lake. As the trumpeter pair has done, the mute swans will stay on the lake all winter.

Don't look for baby birds anytime soon. The two birds Barrick presented Iowa State are male siblings.

Officials with campus planning services said the fence that was installed around the west end of the lake to prevent the trumpeter swans from wandering will be removed yet this fall. Mute swans are not likely to stray from the lake.

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