- Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Media Contact for Passing of the “Eagle Man”, Jack Swedberg
Marion Larson, MassWildlife
John E. “Jack” Swedberg, retired photographer for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), died on July 9 in Webster, Massachusetts. Born in Worcester, Jack gained a love for the wilderness at a very young age through hunting and fishing. He explored Maine and Alaska and many other parts of the country—camera in hand—capturing the beautiful wildlife he encountered.
Jack served in the U. S. Coast Guard on the training vessel “The Eagle” during the Korean War. He was also a Freemason since 1952 and a Life Member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association. Prior to working for MassWildlife, Swedburg was employed by a private wildlife publication based in Holden.
For fifteen years, Jack served as the senior photographer for MassWildlife. His award-winning photographs graced the pages of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine and other agency publications as well as local and regional newspapers. During his tenure, he spent many hours and days photographing at the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts. His father had taken him fishing in the Swift River Valley before Quabbin Reservoir was created, kindling a special attachment to the region. From multiple photography blinds he captured iconic images of eagles, deer, and beaver. A rugged man, Jack was well known for his wide smile, booming laugh, and his bone-crushing handshakes.
He helped lead the successful Bald Eagle restoration effort at Quabbin Reservoir and coordinated the early Midwinter Bald Eagle surveys that documented the recovery of the species. He helped forge strong relationships with the other Project partners including the then-Metropolitan District Commission (now DCR), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York and Michigan state wildlife agencies, and Canadian natural resource agencies in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. He also involved Massachusetts Electric, Massachusetts Audubon, Bank of Boston, the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, UMass/Amherst, Tufts Veterinary School, and many others.
Swedberg was also very well known for the hundreds of slide and film presentations he gave to various sporting, civic, church, youth, and other groups across the state and beyond. Retired colleague and former Central District Manager Bill Davis said, “When you let someone know that you work(ed) for MassWildlife, often the first question asked is, "Do you know Jack Swedberg?"
After retiring in 1988, Jack continued his passion for photography and travel for decades.