The Sunriver man accused of shooting and killing a beloved trumpeter swan, Chuck, on Thanksgiving pleaded guilty Monday in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
Jordan Andrew Dupuis, 22, will be sentenced later this month.
According to a plea agreement, Dupuis is expected to be sentenced to two years’ probation, two days in jail and 80 hours of community service. In addition, he will be suspended from hunting for three years, must forfeit his firearm and pay $3,000 in restitution to the Trumpeter Swan Society and a $1,000 fine to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Trumpeter swans are a protected species in Oregon, and hunting them is illegal.
In his plea agreement, Dupuis admitted to criminal negligence in killing the swan.
Chuck, an 11-year-old trumpeter swan, was found Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day, in the Deschutes River just north of Gannet Lane northwest of Sunriver. The swan was shot in the neck.
Sunriver Police, with help from the Sunriver Nature Center, responded and helped recover the swan alive and sent it to an emergency animal center in Bend. But the swan was euthanized the next day.
Shawn Kollie, Dupuis’ appointed defense lawyer, declined Tuesday to discuss the details of the case, including why Dupuis shot the swan.
Chuck was a popular figure at the Sunriver Nature Center with his mate, Gracie, and their four offspring, born on the Fourth of July 2017. Chuck and Gracie were a critical breeding pair in Oregon’s effort to repopulate the species.
The four offspring have since been sent to the Summer Lake Wildlife Area, a 19,000-acre wetland overseen by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The wildlife area offers a natural habitat for swans, and the four offspring have already become acquainted with one of Chuck’s previous offspring. Through a state program to re-establish them, 112 swans have been released at Summer Lake since 2009.
Gary Ivey, of Bend, a board member of the Trumpeter Swan Society, estimates the society and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have spent $10,000 worth of time and money on Chuck since the society purchased him in 2011 from a bird sanctuary in Michigan.
Chuck was nicknamed “Sir Charles” due to his lineage as the direct descendant of swans given to the Queen of England by officials from Alberta, Canada.
Chuck produced six offspring with Gracie, two in 2016 and the four last summer.
One of his first offspring, Fiona, was also illegally shot and killed by a hunter at Summer Lake in October 2016. At the time, the hunter also shot another swan, Hope, the first cygnet hatched in the wild at Summer Lake to reach adulthood. Hope was rescued, but later died in surgery.
The illegal shootings are a major setback for the repopulation effort. The trumpeter swan population — hunted to near-extinction around the turn of the 20th century, when none remained in Oregon — is growing slowly.
About 35 trumpeter swans live year-round in Oregon, along with others that migrate through the state. Trumpeter swans are the largest native waterfowl in North America with wingspans that can reach 7 feet to lift their 30-pound bodies.
Not having Chuck around this breeding season has been difficult for the wildlife officials, but also for Gracie, who was introduced to Chuck when she came to the nature center in June 2015. Chuck arrived at the nature center in 2013, after being relocated from Pronghorn Resort near Bend.
“She has been very distressed looking for her mate,” Ivey said.
Amanda Accamando, Sunriver Nature Center manager, said the nature center is actively searching for a new mate for Gracie, but even if one is found soon it would be too late for them to mate this season.
The nature center gathered donations to offer a $4,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the illegal shooting. The anonymous person who tipped off Sunriver Police leading to Dupuis’ arrest March 27 will receive the reward, Accamando said.
Explaining the situation to visitors at the nature center has been difficult, especially recently with summer travelers who haven’t heard about the case, Accamando said.
“It’s almost like having to break the news all over the again,” she said. “That’s been tough explaining to everybody.”
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