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Swan shot by arrow can't fly

Bird left behind after flock leaves for winter

Posted: Monday, November 02, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A trumpeter swan that was shot with an arrow earlier this year was left behind when its flock flew south for the winter.

It appears the swan is unable to fly. It is now back at the Alaska Sealife Center.

A volunteer captured the swan Saturday at Tern Lake to protect it from predators after the other swans flew off. One circled and called for the swan - probably its mate - but eventually gave up and joined the flock, leaving the swan behind.

Jeanne Waite Follett, who lives in Moose Pass and had been keeping an eye on the bird since it was injured, saw the swan swimming alone in a patch of water at the lake while driving home Friday night.

Follett's neighbors tried to catch the bird using a dipnet and kayak that night.

"The swan got up on the ice and ran off," she said.

A longtime volunteer for the SeaLife Center and her husband corralled the bird Saturday. "She basically just dove on it," Follett said.

SeaLife Center workers put the swan in a large dog kennel and drove it roughly 40 miles back to the center, where it spent Halloween night in a deep indoor pool.

Sealife Center employees who examined the bird Saturday are certain it's the same one injured by the arrow. The wounds are healed, but problems lingered with the ailing wing, said center spokeswoman Amy Haddow.

"The swan was unable to fully extend the wing that had been injured," said Heidi Cline, the center's avian curator. "She was probably sore and held it close to her body for a week or so after the injury, and lack of use eventually caused muscle atrophy and stiffness."

The swan was discovered in late August with a target arrow piercing its side.

On Sept. 1, scientists and kayakers captured it as its mate honked and trumpeted. They removed the arrow, which missed bones and critical organs but came dangerously close to the 23-pound bird's spine, according to X-rays. The swan recuperated at the Sealife Center.

The swan will likely stay at the center for the next couple of weeks as officials try to find a place to send it for long-term rehabilitation and to socialize with other swans. Depending on its recovery, it could spend the rest of its life in captivity, or join other swans again in natural migrations.



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