The Sunriver man who illegally shot and killed the beloved trumpeter swan Chuck while duck hunting on Thanksgiving was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution and a $1,000 fine Friday in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
Jordan Andrew Dupuis, 22, also was sentenced to two years’ probation, two days in jail and 80 hours of community service. In addition, he is banned from hunting for three years and must forfeit his rifle. The restitution will go to the Trumpeter Swan Society and the fine to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Trumpeter swans are a protected species in Oregon, with fewer than 40 living year-round in the state.
Dupuis apologized for his actions at the sentencing hearing.
“I made a stupid decision, and I regret it,” he said.
Chuck, an 11-year-old resident swan at the Sunriver Nature Center, was found shot in the neck Nov. 23, 2017, in the Deschutes River just north of Gannet Lane northwest of Sunriver. He had to be euthanized the next day.
At the time, there were no suspects. The nature center raised $4,000 to offer as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.
On March 22, Sunriver Police received a report that Dupuis, who is employed at Goodyear Auto Care in south Bend, was overheard telling someone else he was the one who shot the swan.
Travis Ring, an Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife senior trooper, interviewed Dupuis at the auto shop four days later.
According to Ring’s report, obtained by The Bulletin, Dupuis said he and his younger brother and cousin went to the river to hunt ducks.
They couldn’t find any ducks, but they saw swans, Dupuis said.
Chuck was often seen in the area with his mate, Gracie, and their four offspring, born on the Fourth of July 2017.
Ring asked Dupuis who shot the swan. “Mr. Dupuis took a heavy breath, dropped his head and told me he did,” Ring wrote in his report. “He then stated again, ‘I shot the swan.’”
Dupuis said he didn’t know why he did it.
“I was dumb, stupid and immature,” Dupuis told Ring.
Dupuis said he shot once, about 100 yards away from the swans. He initially said the swans swam away and he didn’t think he hit one. But he later admitted to Ring that he did.
When Ring asked why he didn’t contact law enforcement, Dupuis said because he freaked out.
Ring told Dupuis he was doing the right thing. “He told me he didn’t want to dig himself into a deeper hole,” Ring wrote. “He would rather just get it over with.”
Ring returned to the auto shop the next day to cite Dupuis and seize his rifle, a black .22 Ruger with a composite stock, collapsible folding butt-stock and pistol grip.
Chuck was a popular figure at the Sunriver Nature Center since he arrived in 2013, after being relocated from Pronghorn Resort near Bend.
The Trumpeter Swan Society and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spent an estimated $10,000 worth of time and money on Chuck since the society bought him in 2011 from a bird sanctuary in Michigan.
He was nicknamed “Sir Charles” because of his lineage as the direct descendant of swans given to the Queen of England by officials from Alberta, Canada.
Amanda Accamando, Sunriver Nature Center manager, said the center is planning to open a trumpeter swan exhibit later this year that may include a mount of Chuck’s body, which has been stored as evidence by Oregon State Police.
The exhibit would include interpretive signs and tell the story of the threatened species, Accamando said.
“It’s really our wish to do something to tell the story of Chuck and Gracie, and what happened over the last year,” she said. “I think it’s an important story for wildlife conservation and a story of trumpeter swans as a species in Oregon.”
Dupuis’ sentencing offers a sense of closure to wildlife officials, but not for Gracie. They were introduced at the nature center in 2015.
Gracie has been seen wandering into a nearby Sunriver neighborhood and confusing her reflection in sliding glass doors for a mate. Neighbors report hearing her making loud trumpeting noises.
“It does seem like she is looking for something,” Accamando said.
Accamando said the nature center is searching for a new mate for Gracie, and hopes to have one by the end of the summer.
Chuck and Gracie were a critical pair for Oregon’s effort to repopulate the species. The pair produced six offspring, two in 2016 and the four last summer.
The four offspring, three males and one female, have since been sent to the Summer Lake Wildlife Area, a 19,000-acre wetland in central Lake County overseen by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The wildlife area offers an ideal breeding habitat for swans, the largest native waterfowl in North America with wingspans that can reach up to 8 feet to loft their 30-pound bodies.
The trumpeter swan population — hunted to near-extinction around the turn of the 20th century, when none remained in Oregon — is recovering slowly.
Through a state program to re-establish them, 116 swans have been released at Summer Lake since 2009. Many come from captivity in zoos or the Wyoming Wetland Society, which breeds and supplies swans to wildlife areas around the Western United States.
Chuck’s death marks the latest setback due to illegal hunting.
One of Chuck’s first offspring, Fiona, was illegally shot and killed by a hunter at Summer Lake in October 2016. At the same time, the hunter shot another swan, Hope, the first cygnet hatched in the wild at Summer Lake to reach adulthood. Hope was rescued, but died in surgery.
Despite the illegal hunting, wildlife officials expect to lose about half of all young swans to natural causes before they reach the breeding age of 5. Young swans, or cygnets, are vulnerable to predators, such as coyotes and bobcats.
Marty St. Louis, Summer Lake Wildlife Area manager, experienced a loss last month when one of the four new offspring, the female, was likely killed by a coyote.
“That’s just the way it goes with these things,” St. Louis said. “You can count on half of them disappearing. You just can’t catch a break.”
The next couple months are an especially perilous time for the swans as they molt, or shed their flight feathers, leaving them exposed to predators.
“It’s always a stressful time,” St. Louis said.
St. Louis is accustomed to the ups and downs of the state’s repopulation program. Just as an offspring was lost to a coyote, St. Louis spotted a breeding pair at Summer Lake with six new cygnets — a promising sight. The breeding pair came from the Wyoming Wetland Society.
St. Louis said the restitution money from Dupuis will allow the Summer Lake Wildlife Area to buy up to four new swans from the Wyoming organization. It will be a consolation for losing Chuck.
St. Louis has seen swans killed in many ways — even from lightning — but to lose them at the hands of hunters is the most frustrating, he said.
“There is really no good excuse for making that mistake,” St. Louis said, “and killing something you shouldn’t be.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, firstname.lastname@example.org