The cygnets are not old enough to protect themselves, one officials said.
By MONICA BOND
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HIRAM -- The three baby Trumpeter Swans at the Hiram College James H. Barrow Field Station remain missing three days after they disappeared from the lake where they live.
The three cygnets and their parents, Zeus and Hera (who are still at the field station), are part of a reintroduction program sponsored by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center in Cumberland that seeks to restore sustainable wildlife populations.
Janice L. Mock, director of operations and animal programs at the field station, said she suspects the cygnets were stolen, not the victims of a predatory attack.
"The parents seem pretty calm," she said. "Waterfowl get pretty frantic if there is a predatory attack."
An attack by an animal would be unlikely during the time the cygnets disappeared, Mock said.
The cygnets were first discovered missing by the student who cares for the swans. Mock said the cygnets were there when the student fed the parents around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, but were gone when the student checked the swans again around noon. After searching for the cygnets around the lake, the student called Mock.
"I was on my way somewhere with friends when I got the call," she said. "I came out and we searched the lake, both from the shore and with a boat. We also checked the trails and the areas around the lake."
After finding no evidence of a predator, Mock filed a report with the Portage County Sheriff, the Ohio Division of Natural Resources, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Timothy Bryan, director of college relations and assistant to the president at Hiram College, said they hope the public will help.
"We're going to try to get the word out, because the people that do this kind of thing are usually looking to sell them," he said. "They're valuable swans, but not worth going to jail over."
Black market sale
Mock said the cygnets could sell for $600 to $800 each. However, permits are required to sell the swans legally.
"There's kind of a black market in birds and waterfowl," she said. "They may try to sell them at auction or locally."
Mock said the cygnets are old enough to feed on their own, but not old enough to protect themselves.
A story in a paper published near the field station Friday may have encouraged someone to steal the cygnets, Mock said.
"I have a feeling, but I can't say for sure," she said. "It was quick and quiet, but pretty darn nervy."