The gunshot trumpeter swan rescued one month ago won’t ever fly again and won’t be able to be released back into the wild.
But experts at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville, where it is recovering, are fairly confident the huge snow-white bird will survive.
Because wild animals should never be considered pets, the swan has a number, not a name.
Wildlife Center staff hope to release it to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, whose 33 breeding sites are scattered around that state. There, the swan hopefully will find a mate, and the breeding pair’s cygnets can then be released into the wild.
Working as a crime and courts reporter in the south metro usually brings a steady diet of heavy stuff: domestic violence, drunken driving, drugs and, all too often, death. But Sunday and holiday shifts offer the chance now and then to do good-news stories, such as the rescue of the swan from a pond between Waconia and Victoria.
The swan had been hit by three shotgun pellets, likely from an errant hunter. Its wounds were covered with maggots and severely infected. If left on its own in the wild, the bird surely would have died.
The Wildlife Center’s vets and vet techs still must handle the bird more often than they’d like to clean the wound, remove dead tissue, draw blood and change bandages, said Phil Jenni, executive director.
“This is stressful for wild animals,” he said. “We’re trying to help them, but they don’t know that. The whole healing process slows down. With a human with this sort of thing you wouldn’t see this long, drawn-out process.”
Jenni said the Wildlife Center, funded 100 percent by donations, is in its peak season from mid-May to the end of June. It’s taking in about 500 animals a week right now — everything from baby sparrows to snapping turtles, swans and fawns. There are four veterinarians on staff, four vet techs, 70 interns, 20 to 25 vet students and 600 volunteers.
The center is a wild animal hospital and is not open for public tours, Jenni added. “I always say, you don’t go down to Regions Hospital and say, ‘Let me see some patients.’”