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Young whooping cranes released to join eastern flock

November 01, 2012 at 02:10 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

Six young whooping cranes were released Monday at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Dodge County, Wis. as part of the Direct Autumn Release (DAR) project conducted by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

WCEP is an international coalition of public and private organizations that is reintroducing the whooping crane in eastern North America, part of its historic range.

There are now 110 whooping cranes in the wild in eastern North America.

The cranes were hatched and raised by biologists at the International Crane Foundation.

The six birds were released in the company of other cranes.

Biologists expect the young birds will learn the migration route from the older cranes.

Biologists are tracking the released cranes using radio and satellite telemetry.

In addition to the six DAR birds, five juvenile whooping cranes are being led south by project partner Operation Migration’s ultralight aircraft.

The cranes left the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County, Wis. Sept. 28.

The ultralight-led birds are currently in Piatt County.

Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s.

Today, there are only about 600 birds in existence, approximately 445 of them in the wild.

The only other migratory population of whooping cranes nests at Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta, Canada and winters at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast.

A non-migratory flock of approximately 20 birds lives year-round in the central Florida Kissimmee region, and an additional 14 non-migratory cranes live in southern Louisiana.
 
To report whooping crane sightings, visit the WCEP whooping crane observation webpage at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm.

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