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Reintroduction of Migratory Whooping Cranes in Eastern U.S.



Cranes following ultralight

The whooping crane, one of North America's rarest birds, has benefited from a vibrant partnership to bring them back to the flyways of the United States. In spring 2003, 16 whooping crane chicks hatched at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. Following their transfer to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, the chicks spent the summer training behind ultralight aircraft and on October 16, 2003, they began their ultralight-led migration south to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. The birds and their human support team completed the migration on December 8, 2003.

This was the third group of juvenile whooping cranes to take part in a project designed to reintroduce a migratory flock of whooping cranes to a portion of their former range in eastern North America. The eastern migratory flock of whooping cranes now has 20 adult and juvenile whooping cranes and 16 new cranes from this year's reintroduction. All of these whooping cranes spent the winter in Florida.

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership - a coalition of nonprofit organizations, individuals, flyway State agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey - coordinates this unprecedented reintroduction effort. More than 60 percent of the estimated $1.8 million budget comes from private sources in the form of grants, donations, and corporate sponsors.

- June 2004