Minnesota officials are investigating the shooting of two trumpeter swans this week near Detroit Lakes, Minn., and are seeking the public's help.
The swans, a protected species, appear to have been shot with a high-powered rifle, so it likely was no accident, said Chris Vinton, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
"Over the years I've had a couple of them that were shot accidentally during the waterfowl season," Vinton said. "This is the first time I can remember having two just killed to be killed."
The DNR has little evidence so far and will need a tip to solve the case. "You don't know what the motives were at the time -- if it was a youthful indiscretion or if it was purely out of malice," Vinton said. Hopefully there's somebody out there that has heard somebody talk about it and they can pass the information on to me."
Killing a trumpeter swan is a misdemeanor, but the court can also order an offender to pay restitution.
The swans were nearly extinct when they were reintroduced in Minnesota in 1987. Today there are thousands of the birds.