With no clues to go on, save for one dead trumpeter swan, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal game wardens faced an uphill road this winter in finding the person who shot it.

The reintroduction of trumpeter swans to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana began in 1996. The swans were once hunted to near extinction in the United States (Photo by Michael Gallacher/Missoulian).

The reintroduction of trumpeter swans to the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana began in 1996. The swans were once hunted to near extinction in the United States (Photo by Michael Gallacher/Missoulian).

That changed after the tribes put out a press release seeking information, the Missoulian reports.

On Tuesday, two Polson (Mont.) men were fined, and had their hunting, fishing and recreating privileges on tribal lands suspended, in connection with the shooting.

A tip from a person who had knowledge of, and later read a newspaper story about, the trumpeter swan’s death led authorities to the pair, according to Germaine White, information and education specialist with the tribes’ Natural Resources Department.

Leroy Charles, who admitted to firing the shot that killed the swan in January, was fined $3,000 by CSKT Chief Judge Winona Tanner, including $1,500 for restitution for the 3-year-old trumpeter swan.

Charles also lost his bird-hunting, fishing and recreating privileges on tribal lands for five years, and was ordered to seek instruction from either the Salish Pend d’Oreille, or Kootenai, culture committee.

“Judge Tanner, on behalf of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, imposed the maximum penalty under the law because this was such a senseless act,” said CSKT attorney Larry Ginnings, who prosecuted the case.

White said the swan’s loss will be felt for years.

“What’s so tragic is this swan was pair-bonded,” White said, “so you’re not just losing one swan. All the reproductive cycles of that swan are also lost.”

- Vince Devlin

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2014 at 11:37 am and is filed under Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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