Jameson Champion

Earlier this month the City of Lakeland held yet another successful Swan Roundup, gathering the swans for necessary medical checkups.

This year marks the 40th annual Swan Roundup event, and the City of Lakeland is also holding a sale on some nesting pairs of swans. This is being done as a way to keep the population from outgrowing the lake.

Every year since 1980, Lakeland has held a ‘Swan Roundup’, an event in which the City of Lakeland’s Parks Division gathers the swans nesting at Lake Morton in order to perform medical checkups on the animals.

“We like to keep the flock to about 60 birds. Right now we have 80 on the lake,” City of Lakeland’s Director of Communications Kevin Cook said. “We haven’t had a sale since 2014. We only really do so when the flock outgrows the lake.”

The birds will be sold on Oct. 29 at 9 a.m. where each bird will be sold for $400. 

“We have a number of buyers,” Cook said. “We have people making offers from everywhere: Canada, Michigan, from funeral homes and places like the Hollis Gardens. We’ve even had offers from New Port Richey and other municipalities.”

While the swans are an iconic part of the City of Lakeland, it is important that the population remains manageable  through these sales. The current overpopulation of swans has been attributed to the deaths of two of the birds in February when they were struck by vehicles. The city also reports that its annual cost for feeding and caring for the large population is $10,000.

“The swans are iconic, but this sale is important to keeping the population down and healthy.” Cook said.

The roundup took two days to perform. On the first day, two boats were sent out onto the lake. Each boat had three members, a driver and two catchers. The boats chased down a single bird at a time until it was caught in the net by one of the catchers, where the second then placed the swan inside of a cage. 

The boats then returned to the breeding cages on the shore of Lake Morton where the swans were kept until the medical checkup on the next day. 

On the second day of the roundup, veterinarians arrived to perform routine checkups on the birds and they were then released back into Lake Morton.

The first nesting pair of swans came to Lake Morton in 1957, after a Lakeland resident wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth II requesting that they be sent to the city. After their release into the lake, the swans eventually became the mascot for the City of Lakeland, even becoming part of its logo.

By 1980, the number of birds in the flock had grown large enough for the City of Lakeland to decide to begin the Swan Roundups as a way to care for the animals, providing necessary medical care for the birds.

The Swan Roundup has gained traction on the national level, with many news outlets talking about the swan sale because of the swans’ royal roots, as well as the large cost of feeding them.

 

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