THE WHOOPING CRANE REPORT: 10
photos contributed by USGS
The Whooping Crane Reintroduction Event
On July 2, 2001, the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and the USFWS Patuxent Research Refuge's National Wildlife Visitor Center hosted an event to celebrate and publicize an historic effort to reintroduce the endangered whooping cranes to an eastern migratory route. During the event, media representatives were able to observe the whoopers who are being trained to follow an ultralight aircraft along the chosen migratory path.
The crane chicks, bred, reared, and given their initial training at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, were unaware of the reporters watching and filming them from a distance behind a blind. Even for this important event, the chicks were not allowed to "break training" and see or hear humans who weren't in costume. The press received a lot of information about the project and were able to talk to staff members directly involved in chick rearing and training. News coverage following the event was very positive.
The reintroduction project is part of a long-term plan to create a new migratory flock of whoopers, where the last natural migratory flock disappeared 100 years ago. The huge scope and complexity of the project, which crosses many state lines and jurisdictions, is the joint effort of multiple government agencies and nonprofit organizations who have formed The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. Founding members, besides the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, are, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Operation Migration Inc., the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team. Many other flyway States, private individuals, and conservation groups have joined forces with and supported the WCEP by donating resources, funding, and personnel.
Among the many officials who attended the event were Marshall Jones, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director, Bill Hartwig, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director from the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region, Bonnie McGregor, the USGS Eastern Regional Director, Steve Miller, from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, John Berry, Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Timothy J. McBride of the Chrysler Corporation, Dick Dana, private landowner and migration host, Joe Duff from Operation Migration, Inc., Jim Harris of the International Crane Foundation, and Laurie Osterndorf from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. Also in attendance was the crane staff from Patuxent who enjoyed being part of the event celebrating their cranes.
On July 10, the 10 whooper chicks raised for the migration project made their first migration -- they were put on a plane (instead of flying behind it) and flown to Wisconsin to continue their training at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. When they left Patuxent, the chicks were too young to fly. Their maiden flight will take place in Wisconsin at Necedah. There they will undergo three months of specialized training with ultralights, using the same techniques that were so successful last year with sandhill cranes. (Click here for further information) The chicks will then depart Necedah in mid-October and fly through seven states on their way to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Approximately 25 private, State, and Federal properties will be used as stopover points for the birds, aircraft, and personnel. Daily updates, photographs and other information on the project will be available at: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org. Other relevant websites will be listed at the bottom of this page and on our links page.
As we do for the Florida release birds, we will post regular updates on the progress of the Wisconsin whoopers. Their flight to Wisconsin was successful and the chicks are doing well in their new home -- the place where, we all hope, they will some day mate and breed and teach their own chicks their special migratory path.
An excellent site with a lot of information about the Whooping Crane Reintroduction Project can be found on this US Fish & Wildlife Service page:
This month's video footage is of the initial training the young chicks
receive while still at Patuxent. They are introduced to the plane and its
sounds at a very early age so they won't be frightened by it, and a long
crane head puppet is used to deliver treats such as mealworms to encourage
the chicks to follow the plane and regard it as their parent. So far, the
whoopers have done as well as last year's sandhills. We all hope their
training at Necedah will continue to be just as successful.
Please check our site on August 23 for a web page update and new footage!
Click here to ask questions about Patuxent's whooping crane program. Please check our site on August 23 for a web page update and new crane footage!Whooping Crane Reports
Hatch Day (Click on numbered links to view all other egg (negative numbers) and chick days).