02/03/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Duck Hunters Kill Rare Trumpeter Swan

MERMET, Ill. -- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say hunters thought they were shooting at a snow goose but actually killed a rare trumpeter swan at a conservation area in far southern Illinois.

Supervisor Chris McGinness says the bird was shot when it flew over two duck blinds in a public hunting area at the Mermet Lake Conservation Area.

McGinness says three duck hunters -- two in one blind and one in another -- shot at the swan that they misidentified as a snow goose. He says all three men have expressed remorse.

Federal investigators will determine which of the three is responsible for the swan's death.

Officials said after a 2005 survey that about 34,800 trumpeter swans live in three populations, including one along the Mississippi Flyway.