Federal budget cuts force Swan Day cancellation at Utah refuge
Anyone planning to attend the annual Swan Day activities at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on Saturday will find an empty nest.
There will be plenty of swans and other waterfowl to see, but refuge staffers will not be around.
Refuge manager Bob Barrett received the news Tuesday from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's offices in Washington, D.C. He said the decision was made due to the automatic federal budget cuts that started last week.
"The decision was made out of the Washington office. We are waiting to hear more facts," Barrett said. "We are canceling events for this Saturday."
Swan Day is a celebration of the annual migration of tundra swans through Utah, an annual average of 40,000, as they fly north back to the Arctic tundra each March. Barrett said about 300 people attended the event in 2012.
Activities at the event typically include a swan biology clinic, Junior Ranger activities, book readings, arts and crafts and a Junior Duck Stamp starter kit. Fish & Wildlife staff members are usually also available at select locations on the refuge's auto loop to help visitors spot tundra swans.
The swans are gathering on the refuge and can still be seen by the public.
The Wildlife Education Center, 2155 W. Forest Street, west of Brigham City will be closed. The auto tour will be open from sunrise to sunset.
"I might get more direction in the next couple of days that could change the equation," Barrett said.
State-sponsored Swan Day events being held March 16 at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area west of Farmington and the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area west of Corinne are still scheduled.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources employees will be at each site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will have spotting scopes available for visitors to get a good luck at the swans.