FOLLETTS — History was made Tuesday.

The Clinton County Conservation Board, in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, released 10 trumpeter swans at five locations in what they expect will be the last-ever release in Clinton County.

The DNR initiated a trumpeter swan restoration program in 1994, and has since released nearly 600 swans across the state.

At one time, trumpeter swans were native to Iowa. The last recorded nesting was more than 120 years ago at Twin Lakes in 1883. The swan population is believed to have reached an all-time low in the 1930s, said DNR Trumpeter Swan Restoration Coordinator Dave Hoffman. He said 69 swans, including eight nesting pair, existed at that time.

Swans were hunted for the meat and to harvest their thick feathers for powder puffs and quill pens. Commercial hunting eventually was banned, but the swans’ habitat continued to be destroyed.

Iowa has lost 99 percent of its wetlands, said Hoffman, resulting in the loss of many natural water filters.

Iowa has some of the highest concentrations of phosphates anywhere in the world.

The restoration program started when concerned people expressed an interest in seeing the swan population revived, saying the beautiful creatures are a part of the state’s heritage and would improve the quality of life.

Monetary donations have been made to get the program off the ground and keep it running, with one family even contributing about $200,000.

The swans released Tuesday were raised by Bob Boock, who lives north of Wheatland. Boock is one of about 55 partners involved in swan production, and has been a part of the program since its early stages.

“The Clinton County Conservation Board has been intimately involved in the program,” said Hoffman.

It is a gamble whether the swans will return to Iowa to nest, said State Wildlife Biologist Bob Sheets.

The outer 10 primary feathers are clipped at the time of release, said Hoffman. Every species of water fowl in the world molts its flying feathers around July and regrows them, he said.

The intent is for the swans to imprint on the place where they learn to fly and return, which happens about 50 percent of the time.

Two swans were released at the Schneckloth Wildlife Area Tuesday morning, two each at Gomer’s Lake, and at three private lakes throughout the day.

During the nesting season a nesting pair can be observed on a Web camera at www.osage.net/~mccb.

Hoffman can be contacted at (641) 357-3517, or via e-mail at David.Hoffman@dnr.state. ia.us.