MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Wildlife officials are reminding the public that when trumpeter swans and other waterfowl appear to be trapped on freezing bodies of water they are, in most cases, fine.

“Just like humans, animals behave differently when the seasons and temperatures change,” the Department of Natural Resources wrote in a press release Thursday. “It is important not to assume the worst when observing a wildlife situation.”

Birds like trumpeter swans move around less when the weather is cold, the DNR says, noting that people sometimes misinterpret this inactivity as distress.

If an animal actually appears to be in trouble, wildlife officials caution that it’s unlikely the reason is solely weather related. More likely is that there’s an underlying issue, such as sickness or injury.

Even if a suffering animal is saved, it might be impossible to rehabilitate and release back into the wild. The DNR notes that animals that die during winter are an important part of the food chain.

What wildlife officials don’t want Minnesotans doing is heading out on freezing lakes to save birds, which are likely not in need of help. “Do not risk a human life to save a wild animal,” the DNR advises.

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