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Why is the Whooping Crane Endangered?

Photo of young whooper chick. Photo by Damien Ossi, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
(Photo by Damien Ossi, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center)

Should we care about saving the Whooping Crane?

Humans contributed to the decline of the whooping crane.  Many people now feel that we have a moral duty to help this magnificent bird. 

Whooping cranes live in wetlands.  The success of whooping crane populations depends on the health of the wetland ecosystems.  Our natural heritage of biological diversity - all of the species of plants and animals - is a precious resource.  Our future quality of life depends on how we take care of our natural inheritance. 

Why is the Whooping Crane Endangered?

Several factors have harmed whooping cranes.  The primary one is the loss of habitat.  Wetlands have been drained for agriculture.  Oil and gas development and the construction of intercoastal waterways for barge traffic are additional threats.  

Whooping cranes have been hunted, both for their meat and for their feathers.  The long beautiful feathers of whooping cranes were fashionable adornments to hats and other clothing. Humans also have robbed crane nests of their eggs because collectors pay high prices for rare eggs.  

In 1937, fewer than 20 birds remained, all in a population that wintered in Texas.  The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was established in that year to protect the whooping crane and its habitat.  By 1941, biologists at zoos tried to breed whooping cranes in captivity.  In 1967, biologists at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center began a captive breeding program to increase numbers.  Because the whooping cranes in the Texas population breed in Canada, biologists from both the U. S. and Canada have been cooperating in planning the recovery plan. 

Click here to ask questions about our chick or Patuxent's crane program. 

Hatch Day (Click on numbered links to view egg (negative numbers) and chick days).




















 To check on updates after day 14, go to whooper's home.
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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA
Contact: Jonathan Male
Last Modification: 14-June-2000@15:30 (edt)
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