Nature up close: Whooping cranes are finally making a comeback

 Good News Notes:

“In the summer of 1998, while driving along the Slough Creek Road in Yellowstone National Park, my husband and I spotted two whooping cranes. Wait! Whooping cranes don’t live in Yellowstone; they spend their winters in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, and their summers in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada, over 2,000 miles north of Yellowstone.”

“The stately, majestic whooping crane has never been a common bird in North America. Their population is estimated to have been between 10,000 to 20,000 birds before European settlers arrived in the New World. By the 1870s their population was down to around 1,350 birds. In 1938 that number was 15 in one single migratory flock that wintered along the Texas coast (in what is now Aransas National Wildlife Refuge), and bred in some unknown location in Canada. There were also 15 in a non-migratory flock in Louisiana, but a 1940 hurricane killed half of them and scattered the rest.”

“In the last few years a longtime goal of whooping crane biologists has finally been realized by the establishment of a second migratory flock that moves between Florida and Wisconsin. After several tries, and failures, a non-migratory population is now holding its own in Louisiana as well. Those two groups, along with the original Aransas-Wood Buffalo population and captive whoopers, brings their total population to just over 800. After almost 80 years, thousands and thousands of man hours and untold millions of dollars, we have 800 whooping cranes. It is difficult to say that is a total success, but it is impossible to imagine a world without whooping cranes.”

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