Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Why Endangered?

Why is the Whooping Crane Endangered?

While several factors have contributed to the current status of Whooping Cranes, the primary reasons are habitat loss and past rampant, unregulated hunting for their meat and feathers. 

Whooping Cranes live in wetlands and the success of Whooping Crane populations depend on the health of wetland ecosystems.  Over time, wetlands across North America have been drained for agriculture and damaged through development, oil and gas exploration, and the construction of intercoastal waterways.

Whooping Cranes have also been hunted, both for their meat and plumage.  The long, beautiful feathers were fashionable adornments to hats and clothing. Humans have also robbed crane nests because collectors pay high prices for rare eggs.  And while shooting the endangered cranes is now against the law, the bodies of Whooping Cranes are occasionally discovered after being shot.

Since humans contributed to the decline of the Whooping Crane, many people now feel that we have a moral duty to help this magnificent bird. 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.

Cranes in the mist
A young pair of adult Whooping Cranes stand together in the morning fog.

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