Missouri hunters charged with shooting trumpeter swans

COLUMBIA | Seven hunters face misdemeanor criminal charges for allegedly killing protected migratory birds in central Missouri.

The charges follow a Dec. 29 incident in which hunters shot five trumpeter swans at the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area southwest of Columbia. The seven men are charged with taking protected wildlife in violation of state rules and regulations.

Trumpeter swans are among the largest birds in North America and were once on the verge of extinction. The hunters told wildlife officers they thought the swans they shot were snow geese, a much smaller bird.

Four of the defendants are from the St. Louis area. The other three live in Boone County.