Louisiana officials: Don’t mess with whoopers
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials have launched a campaign to urge residents to safeguard the whooping crane population recently reintroduced in south Louisiana.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/NvWxjv) radio ads and billboards are set to roll out in the coming weeks and the agency has developed a program to teach schoolchildren about the birds.
Wildlife officials have been working with federal authorities to re-establish a colony of the endangered birds, with 26 released in two groups last year at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish.
At least 16 of the birds are known to be alive said Sara Zimorski, a Wildlife and Fisheries biologist with Wildlife and Fisheries.
Deaths were expected since the birds have to fend for themselves in the wild, Zimorski said.
But two are believed to have been shot and killed last year in Jefferson Davis Parish.
The outreach effort is in part a response to the shootings, Zimorski said.
“It just sort of made us realize we needed to get the word out,” she said.
The outreach program will be funded with a $125,000 grant from Chevron, Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Bo Boehringer said.
One component is development of lesson plans to teach middle and high schools students about whooping cranes and the reintroduction program.
Billboards and radio spots will be focused on southwest Louisiana and will work to educate residents about the crane reintroduction program, advise folks to keep their distance from the birds and urge people to report anyone causing harm to the cranes, Boehringer said.
It’s critical the birds don’t become accustomed to human contact, he said.
“That fear of humans, that is a self-defense mechanism,” Boehringer said.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.