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Ecotourism dollars key to Tundra Swan appreciation and protection

April 10, 2002 | Swans

Darien, Connecticut—Slightly more than a month after the launch of the Campaign for the Appreciation and Protection of Tundra Swans in Pennsylvania, Friends of Animals (FoA)—a national animal rights and protection organization with more than 200,000 U.S. members—will focus the campaign on the ecotourism benefits that Tundra Swan watchers, ornithologists, birders and photographers can bring to the local economy.

As many as 10,000 Tundra Swans (Cygnus c. columbianus) visit Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River Valley biannually during their long-distance migrations between the Arctic and the Eastern Seaboard. They are the state’s only regularly occurring native swan species.

Most Tundra Swans have already left their Pennsylvania staging areas to head home to the Arctic for breeding. They will return in November on the way to Virginia and North Carolina, and again in late winter for their return trip from the South.

Ecotourism dollars are generated annually in local and regional communities in southeastern Pennsylvania when birders, photographers, and the general public visit Tundra Swan migratory staging areas to see and photograph them from mid-February to late March. Area support of ecotourism will help to develop appreciation for Tundra Swans and to secure widespread, grassroots support for their permanent protection in the Keystone state.

“Pennsylvania has missed out on an attraction that could bring hundreds to thousands of tourists to the Keystone state—eager to spend their money. Tundra Swans are some of the most elegant birds. In addition to taking the opportunity for their own private viewings, Pennsylvania residents and businesses should jump at the chance to benefit from those who wish to see these birds and spend money in the process,” says Priscilla Feral, president of FoA.

FoA now is preparing a range of innovative educational and other swan-related materials, meetings, and resources to enhance ecotourism-based Tundra Swan watching during these special times at key locations in Pennsylvania. These include the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area near Kleinfeltersville, Lebanon County; the Susquehanna River from Washington Boro, Lancaster County, north along the river to the Lewisburg area, Union County; the PPL Montour Preserve in Montour County; and sometimes Blue Marsh Lake and Lake Ontelaunee near Reading in Berks County. Tundra Swans occasionally also stop briefly at other large lakes and reservoirs elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

The organization of a Swan Advisory Committee, for example, is in progress to make suggestions and recommendations on various aspects of the swan Campaign, and to monitor the policies of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which has legal, regulatory, and management control of Tundra Swans in the state. The Committee will consist of invited birders, photographers, ornithologists, animal protection advocates, and others with knowledge of Tundra Swans and the largely unexploited ecotourism opportunities they offer in Pennsylvania.

As the ecotourism aspects of the Campaign move forward, Friends of Animals will make efforts to notify and enlist the endorsement and support of local and regional business leaders in key areas such as Berks, Lebanon, Lancaster, Montour, and Union counties, and make sure they are aware of the financial benefits that ecotourism-based Tundra Swan watching and photography can offer to their respective geographic areas.

Pennsylvania ornithologist and FoA’s Wildlife Consultant Donald S. Heintzelman says, “Excellent new business opportunities exist and await development by innovative and creative businesspersons interested in combining business activities with Tundra Swan viewing and photography. I hope local, regional, and state tourism officials quickly recognize this potential for the development of a whole new branch of ecotourism in Pennsylvania - all thanks to annual visits of thousands of Tundra Swans in our state.”

Other components of the Campaign for Tundra Swan Appreciation and Protection in Pennsylvania will be released to the media as they are developed. The Philadelphia Inquirer and a number of additional daily and weekly papers in Pennsylvania have already reported the Campaign’s launch.

Persons wanting more information about the Friends of Animals Campaign for Tundra Swan Appreciation and Protection in Pennsylvania can access the organization’s Web site at www.friendsofanimals.org, or write them at 777 Post Road, Suite 205, Darien, CT 06820.

Friends of Animals is an international, non-profit organization working to achieve an ethic of respect in people’s relations with animals around the world.

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