A man has been charged with killing a federally-protected species after he allegedly killed 2 trumpeter swans on an Anoka County lake.
The alleged shooting happened on Sept. 28 on Rice Lake, when a DNR officer observed a kayaker following a swan, before shooting it with a shotgun.
The officers headed off the kayaker and found two dead trumpeter swans across the bow of the kayak, and he was also in possession of a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun.
He was identified as Conner Walsh, 25, of Lino Lakes, who has been charged with 6 hunting crimes and 1 boating offense in Anoka County.
Trumpeter swans are federally protected birds and cannot be killed without authorization under Minnesota fishing and game laws, the criminal complaint against Walsh states.
Walsh was also found to have an expired hunting license, showing officers one from 2016 rather than 2018, saying he couldn't obtain one for 2018 because his driver's license had expired.
He also didn't have the required stamps to hunt waterfowl.
When quizzed by the officers, he said that he thought the trumpeter swans were snow geese.
The Star Tribune notes that trumpeter swans – the largest of the swan species – are 4-5 times larger than snow geese and are not easily mistaken for them.
The trumpeter swan had disappeared from Minnesota as of the 1880s and only a few dozen remain in the entire U.S. by the 1930s, but have been saved and their population boosted thanks to careful restoration efforts over the decades.