Whooping Crane Tragedy

Posted by ardeidae on February 03, 2007

My heart dropped when I read the headline on CNN..."Endangered cranes also victims of Florida storm". Storms that hit Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge near Crystal River, Florida caused all 18 endangered Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) being kept in an enclosure to perish. For the last six years, chicks have been hatched and raised at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin. Their caretakers wear crane costumes to avoid human imprinting. When they're ready to migrate in the fall to Chassahowitzka, an ultralight leads them to their destination. This is a traumatic setback for Operation Migration and Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. Now, especially, is a good time to visit their sites and show them some support.

Update: One bird has been reported to survive, escaping the pen around the time the storm hit. Whooper Happenings is providing updates on their site, and has released a new podcast that sheds more light on this.

Birder's World magazine also has a story on this. It includes interviews with major players on the reintroduction team; explains what happened when and what was lost; and describes the next steps for the project.

How very sad to hear this news!!!!

Posted by Glo  on  02/04  at  07:33 AM

This was a devastating set-back that was an unpredictable and unavoidable tragedy for the Eastern Introduced Whooping crane project.  They have extended the project one year, in their effort to introduce 125 Whoopers with 25 breeding pairs migrating from Wisconsin to Florida.  However, the chice of their winter pensite is still being looked at, and it is possible another location will be chosen for the 2007 migration.  There were 6 year’s of bird migrations raised successfully at the Chassahowitzka site, but the weather picture, thanks to something many won’t even acknowledge, called ‘global warming’, is changing here in Florida!  Such dramatic storms like the one which killed the 17 cranes (a lightning strike is suspected) and then the tornadoes headed east across the state, killing 20 people and destroying 1500 homes, are becoming more common.  Little warning is available, and there is very little anyone can do when they do happen! 

Global warming is a major problem, and the sooner the government mandates legislation to force automakers, environmental controls and domestic policies that insure the future of our world, the better chance of future survival.  Corporations will never voluntarily do anything that reduces or thwarts their bottom line, but once the environment is gone, what will they do with all their financial resources?  I hear that Mars is lovely in the summer!

We are way past the time to act on this issue, and Al Gore is on target this time! 

One crane escaped the pensite, and he remains the only survivor of all the tremendous effort and work that went into this flock of beautiful birds last year!  At an average cost of over $100,000 each to hatch, raise and train these birds, they come at no small price!  But then extinction always has been a pricey thing for our society, and it is through our fault that they almost became extinct!  Correcting any mistake is never without a cost.

If you want more informatio about the work of Operation Migration or would like to help them with the new flock of birds that soon will hatch, please go here…

You can visit their website for information at operationmigration.org .

This is one effort that is already making a huge environmental difference!  When you preserve a species and their habitat, like wetlands, you help many other less charismatic species and wildlife as well.  It is making our world a better place, but we ALL need to do our part!  Do something… soon!

Posted by Mark Chenoweth  on  03/17  at  04:44 AM

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