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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista A black swan appeared earlier this winter on Lake Bella Vista and no one knows where it came from.

An illegal immigrant has stirred up a lot of interest in Bella Vista. Pictures and conjecture have been posted on several Facebook pages, but no one knows exactly where the newcomer came from or why.

"He" was spotted about two months ago on Lake Bella Vista and has remained there, much to the dismay of the resident Canada geese. The black swan is more than a metaphor for the residents of Bella Vista.

Facebook posts about the swan began towards the end of November 2017. Soon, the swan was given a name, Bob, which it earned by putting its head down into the water and letting its tail feathers bob up and down. So far, no one seems to have determined if the bird is male or female.

In early January, there was a scare when a Facebook post reported that Bob had fishing line tangled around its bill. But another post reported that it was free, although it's not clear how the bird untangled itself.

Black swans are not native to the United States, University of Arkansas professor Kim Smith confirmed, and it's actually illegal to import waterfowl into the state. But there are some around, he said.

Smith contacted Karen Rowe, AGFC non-game bird biologist, to see if she knew anything about Bob. Rowe knows there are two black swans in Northwest Arkansas. She got that information from a breeder in Florida, but she doesn't know the owner's name or his exact location.

Unless the birds' wings are clipped they will be able to travel fairly long distances, Smith said.

"It could have come from anywhere," he said.

Black swans are aggressive towards other species, Smith said. He's heard of golf courses importing black swans to chase off Canada geese, but it didn't work out well. After the geese were gone, the swans turned on the golfers, Smith said.

The POA's Lake and Fisheries superintendent, Rick Echols, who has been involved with efforts to limit the Canada geese population in town, said he didn't believe anyone from the golf courses brought the swan in. After all, he pointed out, there are seven golf courses and only one swan.

"It's probably something that someone dropped off," Echols guessed.

Rowe said the Gentry Drive-through Safari has some swans, but it doesn't have a permit for black swans.

According to Wikipedia, black swans are native to the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. They were introduced to other countries as ornamental birds in the 1800s and some swans escaped and developed their own small populations in specific locations in Europe. A mature black swan measures up to 56 inches in length and can weigh close to 20 pounds with a wingspan that can reach six feet

General News on 02/07/2018

Print Headline: Illegal alien takes up residence in Bella Vista

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