Whooping crane shooting: two youngsters arrested
EFFORTS PAY OFF: A migratory population of whooping cranes is being established in eastern US
‘This is a huge setback'
October 2011: Two whooping cranes have been shot dead in Louisiana. Two youngsters have been arrested.
According to an eyewitness account, the teenagers shot the birds from their truck and killed two whooping cranes.
Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) retrieved the dead birds, which were a part of LDWF's whooping crane reintroduction programme.
‘Losing two cranes, especially in such a thoughtless manner, is a huge setback in the department's efforts to re-establish a whooping crane population in Louisiana,' said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. ‘We take this careless crime very seriously.'
But migration success is cause for celebration
However, despite the deaths, America's reintroduction programme is still proving a success.
Eighteen young whooping cranes are currently winging their way south across America in their first autumn migration. This is the 11th group of birds to take part in the project led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP), a coalition of public and private groups that is reintroducing this highly imperiled species in eastern North America, part of its historic range.
Eight of the 18 cranes were released earlier this month at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Dodge County, Wisconsin. The cranes were hatched and raised by biologists with project partner International Crane Foundation. The birds were released in the company of older cranes from whom the young birds will learn the migration route south. This is the seventh year WCEP has used this Direct Autumn Release (DAR) method.
Eight healthy crane chicks
‘We are proud of the remarkable efforts of the International Crane Foundation staff to rear eight healthy chicks and carry on the efforts to establish a migratory population of whooping cranes in the eastern US,' said Dr Barry Hartup, director of veterinary services at the International Crane Foundation.
The other ten whooping cranes are being led to their wintering habitats by WCEP partner Operation Migration's ultralight aircraft.
There are about 570 whooping cranes left in the world, only 400 in the wild. About 100 cranes are in the eastern migratory population. For the 11th time in as many years, ultralight-led captive reared whooping cranes are learning their migration route to wintering sites in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.