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Burlington’s Beverly Kingdon is a local conservation hero

By John Bkila,
Burlington Post,
August 2 2017

Champion of trumpeter swans receives J. R. Dymond Public Service Award from Ontario Nature

A Burlington champion of trumpeter swans was recently recognized as a local conservation hero.

Back in June, Ontario Nature – a charitable organization that works to protect wild species and spaces through conservation, education and public engagement – recognized the contributions made by individuals, groups, municipalities and businesses in 2016.

Burlington’s Beverly Kingdon, 73, was given the J. R. Dymond Public Service Award for her nearly 40 years of volunteer work helping to restore the trumpeter swan population and spread public awareness about the species.

“This award came as a total surprise as the work that I have been involved in, with the swans, has been conducted by a small group without much fanfare over a long period of time,” Kingdon told the Post.

“Awards are not something that happens to my type of involvement, so I am deeply honoured for this recognition.”

Trumpeter swans were hunted out of existence in Ontario by the late 1800s and re-introduced into the province in the 1980s.

Kingdon, who is part of the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Group, said she initially got involved in the line of work because she loves swans and it gave her an opportunity to “give back something to our society that was decimated by our society.”

She said she hopes receiving the award from Ontario Nature will help distinguish a hobby from a very serious conservation endeavour.

“The trumpeter swans were extirpated in Ontario when the last trumpeter was killed at Long Point in 1869,” she noted.

“Without the Ontario Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program, residents would have never seen a trumpeter swan, which is truly a native bird to North America, in the province.”

According to a recent global swan count by Canadian Wildlife Services, aerial surveillance into northwestern Ontario along the Manitoba border discovered 1,000 migrating U.S. trumpeters from Minnesota along that area, according to Kingdon.

“Along with this find, the restoration group is responsible for a further 1,000 swans in eastern Ontario, making the total population in the province approximately 2,000 in 2015,” she said, estimating up to 25 per cent of the Ontario bird population “over-winters” at LaSalle Park in Burlington.

“Which is where our highest concentration of banding takes place from the end of October to the end of March.”

Kingdon noted the tagging program has been ongoing since the first releases of trumpeter swans approximately in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s.

“Our intention is to band more than 100 swans each year and in particular we target the cygnets in the late part of autumn and early part of winter,” she said.

Kingdon explained the population of the trumpeter swan flock is still fragile and one “catastrophe” could result in a return to a non-existent population.

“We will keep tagging and adding information to the database at Guelph University until we are absolutely certain that trumpeter swans are not in danger in Ontario,” she added.

by John Bkila
John Bkila is the City Hall reporter for the Burlington Post. He can be reached at jbkila@burlingtonpost.com . Follow him on Twitter and the Burlington Post on Facebook.