trumpeter swans
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Brothers in Trouble After Illegal Swan Hunt in Michigan

The two are in hot water after shooting federally protected birds.

Two brothers from Houghton County, Michigan, are facing fines and possibly jail time after poaching a pair of trumpeter swans, which are federally protected, on Sept. 28.

Officials haven't identified either individual, but have disclosed both are in their late 20s.

According to a report from, Baraga County conservation officer Cody Smith received a tip from the local "Report All Poaching" hotline, which detailed an incident in which hunters had shot multiple swans near the Sturgeon River sloughs.

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Smith began his investigation by contacting Houghton officer Doug Hermanson, who helped him track the two down to a location just south of Chassell.

"We asked the hunters if they had seen any geese, which they said they had not," Smith told "We spoke to them for a little bit and told them about the RAP complaint."

To make matters worse, the officers found one of the brothers in possession of lead shot, which is illegal for waterfowl hunting, as it becomes toxic when birds pick it up and ingest it.

This ultimately prompted the hunters to confess to killing the swans and stashing them where they dropped.

After obtaining the birds, the officers issued the brothers tickets for poaching and possession of lead shot while waterfowl hunting, both of which are misdemeanors.

Each hunter is facing up t0 90 days and jail, and up to $500 for reimbursement, in addition to other court costs.

"I want to tank the tipster who reported these poachers to the RAP hotline," said Chief Gary Hagler, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. "Conservation officers rely on support from the public to preserve natural resources for future generations."

The DNR is retaining the poached trumpeter swans as evidence, but could possibly repurpose them for research or public education.