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Accession Number 5005082

Title Restoration ecology of a migratory population of whooping cranes:Wisconsin to Florida

Project Description The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service want to introduce a wild,

migratory flock of whooping cranes into Eastern North America and a nonmigratory flock of

whooping cranes into Florida. Once these populations are established and the Aransas-Wood

Buffalo population is secure the whooping crane can be moved from the endangered to threatened

classification. The successful production of captive-bred cranes is an essential part of these

efforts. Productivity and access to the wild population in the Wood Buffalo National Park are

limited. A team (Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership or WCEP) was formed in September 1999

to establish a population that will breed in Wisconsin and winter in Florida. Ultralight aircraft and

other techniques will introduce the cranes to the migratory path. Operation Migration (ultralight

team), the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the

U.S. Geological Survey and others will use ultralight techniques in an attempt to introduce the

cranes to the chosen migratory path. Other studies are under review to find ways to introduce

whooping cranes to the ultralight flock and to the migratory route. Patuxent started reintroduction

research with sandhill cranes in the 1970s, whooping cranes in the 1980s and continues that work

today.These studies improve our understanding of conditions necessary for a successful release

of animals and ways to study these changes for large birds and mammals. Principals and

practices from these studies helped establish a productive nonmigratory whooping crane flock of

more than 100 birds in Florida. Our objectives are to: a. to release whooping cranes in Wisconsin

that will winter in the salt marshes of Florida, survive and breed in Wisconsin, b. train whooping

cranes to follow a chosen migratory route for migration, c. train whooping cranes to follow an

ultralight aircraft that remain wild enough to survive in the wild after release, c. accomplish these

objectives without excessive mortality, and d. to complete the project without compromising

safety of birds or humans.

Keywords crane, endangered species, grus americana, reintroduction, restoration, sprecies at risk, status

and trends, wetlands, whooping crane,

Principal George F Gee, Crane Restoration Ecology: george_gee@usgs.gov;

Investigators

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