NEWS

Rehabilitated Yukon swans catch a lift south to Vancouver

02/11/2015 04:14 EST | Updated 04/13/2015 05:59 EDT
Two swans got help flying south from Whitehorse Wednesday on a Boeing 737 after spending several months convalescing at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. 

A tundra swan arrived in the care of the preserve in early October, underweight and weakened by parasites. Then, a few weeks later a trumpeter swan arrived with a soft tissue injury. It too was underweight.

Veternarian Maria Hallock says the birds bonded quickly even though they are not the same species.  

"It was pretty sweet," she says. "You know the stories about swan love. They truly were attached to one another."

Hallock says the two birds shared a recovery space at Wildlife Research and Rehabilitation Centre. 

"When we had to remove one from the enclosure just to examine it, the other would sit there and call and wait for its buddy to come back," she says. 

Despite a quick recovery, releasing the swans was not straightforward. The birds missed the window for their migration.

Staff at the wildlife preserve arranged to have the birds transported to B.C. in December, but an outbreak of avian influenza put that on hold. 

Now after almost four months in care it's expected the birds will soon be released into the wild.

"They became really attached to one another so I'm really glad they are going together," says Hallock.

The first step in their release happened Wednesday when the birds boarded an Air North flight bound for Vancouver. 

Hallock says the birds are now in the care of the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C.

"They will take them to their facility, they will examine them, they will have to keep them for a few days just to observe them and make sure they are ready to be released and then hopefully they will let them go."

She says the birds are likely to pass through the Whitehorse area again as the spring swan migration is just a few months away.

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