whooping cranes

Third Cohort of Whooping Cranes Released at White Lake WCA

Release Date: 12/19/2012

Third Cohort of Whooping Cranes Released at White Lake WCA, Dec. 17, 2012.
Third Cohort of Whooping Cranes Released at White Lake WCA, Dec. 17, 2012.
Third Cohort of Whooping Cranes Released at White Lake WCA, Dec. 17, 2012.
Third Cohort of Whooping Cranes Released at White Lake WCA, Dec. 17, 2012.

Dec. 19, 2012 – The fourteen juvenile whooping cranes delivered to White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan last month were released into the wild Monday. The young cranes join fourteen adults which are part of an experimental population being monitored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).

“We are making history”, said Robert Love, LDWF’s Coastal and Nongame Resources Division administrator. “We are very excited about this new level of progress and with this recent cohort being released into the marsh, the Louisiana population now totals twenty eight. That is more whoopers than existed in this State during the last eighty or so years.”

The cranes arrived in southwest Louisiana on Nov. 29 from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md.  LDWF is working cooperatively with US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation to establish a non-migratory population in the state.

The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts and by state law. Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance.

Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds similar to white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese.  However, a red head and black facial markings along with a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet make them very distinctive.  In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.

Juvenile whooping cranes are primarily white with some cinnamon-brown feathers remaining on their body, primarily on their head and neck. Their wing tips are black like an adult, but they lack the red head.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.

For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, visit LDWF’s website at www.wlf.la.gov or contact Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5115.

L.D.W.F. Receives 14 Juvenile Whooping Cranes at White Lake W.C.A. To Bolster Restoration Project Effort

Release Date: 12/05/2012

Whooping crane cohort 3 being offloaded at Jennings airport Nov. 29, 2012.
L.D.W.F. Receives 14 Juvenile Whooping Cranes at White Lake W.C.A. To Bolster Restoration Project Effort
Whooping crane cohort 3 examined prior to delivery to holding pen at White Lake WCA Nov. 29, 2012.
Whooping crane cohort 3 examined prior to delivery to holding pen at White Lake WCA Nov. 29, 2012.
 Whooping crane cohort 3 examined prior to delivery to holding pen at White Lake WCA Nov. 29, 2012.
Whooping crane cohort 3 arrives at White Lake WCA holding pen Nov. 29, 2012.

 

Dec. 5, 2012 – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists received a third cohort of juvenile whooping cranes at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan on Nov. 29. The 14 young cranes add to the state’s resident population established through LDWF’s species restoration project in progress.
 
“The continued support from biologists on the research side, plus federal funding and individual and corporate donors who provide additional funding, will be key components as we move into year three of this multi-year project,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.
 
The White Lake WCA location in Vermilion Parish provides temporary shelter for the birds prior to their release into the wild. The cranes were raised at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and flown to Louisiana by the Windway Capital Corporation. International Paper (IP) assisted with the delivery by designing and producing the transport boxes used during the cranes’ transfer. This month’s delivery increases the Louisiana whooping crane population to 28.
 
LDWF continues to work cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the International Crane Foundation to bring the species back to the state. Project funding is derived from LDWF species restoration dedicated funds, federal funds and private/corporate donations which are facilitated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Major corporate funding support to date has been provided by Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Acadian  Ambulance.
 
The whooping cranes Louisiana receives are designated as a non-essential, experimental population (NEP) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This designation and its implementing regulation were developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area.The initial cohort of birds received in 2011 marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.
Hunters, fishermen and anyone who spends time in the marshes and rice fields of southwest Louisiana are reminded that whooping cranes in Louisiana are still protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be pursued, harassed, captured or killed.
Waterfowl hunters should be accustomed to seeing large-bodied, white birds with black wing-tips, such as white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, which must be distinguished from the legally-hunted snow geese.  Mature whooping cranes are equally identifiable as they stand five feet tall and have a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet. Easily identifiable characteristics of whooping cranes in flight include black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail. Standing whooping cranes also exhibit the bustle of rump feathers more pronounced than other large white birds.
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-251 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 
For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit www.wlf.la.gov; or contact Bo Boehringer atbboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5115.

Whooping Crane Teacher Workshops Implemented with Chevron Grant Funding

Release Date: 08/23/2012

“Give a Whoop” participants received a life-size whooping crane poster for classroom display. Photo by Jason Cohen.

  Aug. 23, 2012  -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) recently held its first two whooping crane education “Give a Whoop” Workshops, as part of a grant provided by Chevron and facilitated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission (LEEC).  

The workshops were held at LDWF’s White Lake Wetland Conservation Area in Gueydan on Aug. 2 and 7. The first workshop was offered to environmental educators throughout the state and the second was held as part of an in-service professional development day for the life science teachers of Calcasieu Parish.  

Louisiana educators of middle and high school students learned about the complexities and challenges of the reintroduction program, received how-to demonstrations on the classroom lesson activities and engaged in field work related to habitat identification and using GPS units. Participants also visited the crane pens via a boat ride through the remote marsh area.  

Workshop participants received a handheld GPS unit for classroom use, the lesson series of nine engaging, GLE-aligned lessons covering topics such as taxonomy, bird reproduction, ecosystems, adaptation, endangered species and other related items.  

The next whooping crane workshop will be held at the Louisiana Association of Teachers and Mathematics and the Louisiana Science Teachers Association (LATM/LSTA) conference on Nov. 12 in Shreveport. Additional workshops will follow.  

Contact Venise Ortego at 337-948-0255 or vortego@wlf.la.gov for information about future workshops.  For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit www.wlf.la.gov; or contact Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or 337-536-7292. For photos, video footage and research documentation please visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes.

L.D.W.F. Public Education Campaign Focuses on Whooping Crane Awareness

Release Date: 06/25/2012

June 25, 2012 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is launching a multi-faceted public education campaign designed to increase public awareness of the presence of whooping cranes in the state.

The non-migratory population, currently numbering 16 cranes, has been in southwest Louisiana since 2011 and has moved beyond the boundaries of White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area where the cranes were first released.

“The department wants the public to know that this species repopulation project is underway and care should be taken if these birds are encountered,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We greatly appreciate the funding support provided by Chevron to educate the public about the work being done.”

Utilizing a grant provided by Chevron, LDWF will distribute a teaching module recently developed that specifically addresses this new non-migratory flock of whooping cranes. Eight engaging, GLE- aligned lessons covering topics such as taxonomy, bird reproduction, ecosystems, adaptation, and endangered species will be distributed to Louisiana educators via day-long workshops to be held at four locations throughout the state. Geared toward teachers of middle and high school students and informal educators, these workshops will explain the complexities and challenges of the reintroduction program, demonstrate the new classroom lesson activities, and engage participants in field work related to habitat identification using GPS units.

“Chevron is pleased to partner with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries,” said Warner Williams, Chevron North America Gulf of Mexico Vice President. “We recognize the important role education plays in protecting the rich biodiversity of Louisiana for future generations to enjoy.”

Workshop participants will receive a $75 stipend, a handheld GPS unit for classroom use, the lesson series, and other related items. The first workshop will be held at LDWF’s White Lake facility south of Gueydan on August 2, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration information can be found on the website at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/eec  or by contacting Venise Ortego at vortego@wlf.la.gov.

LDWF’s public awareness efforts will include billboards and radio announcements that alert citizens that the cranes are here and the public has a role in helping the department restore a Louisiana treasure.

Additionally, the Chevron funds cover the costs of tracking devices that provide biologists data on the cranes’ location several times per day. This information tells biologists what types of habitat the cranes are using throughout the day and provides the opportunity for observations of individual birds to assess their health and well-being.  

The whooping cranes now in the state were raised at the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and transported to Vermilion Parish.  Movement of the birds has been traced to Avoyelles, West Feliciana, Evangeline, Allen, Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis, Acadia, St. Martin, Iberia, Cameron and Vermilion parishes in the months since their arrival. The two groups of birds delivered in 2011 will be supplemented by additional deliveries over the next several years.

The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts and by state law. Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance to avoid disturbing it.

The species is large-bodied and adults are white with black wing tips, similar to white ibis, white pelicans and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from the much smaller and legally-hunted snow geese.  Mature whooping cranes are easily identifiable as they stand five feet tall and have a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet. Characteristics of whooping cranes in flight include black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 

For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit www.wlf.la.gov; or contact Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or 337-536-7292. News media outlets interested in visiting the White Lake WCA facility can contact Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5115. For photos, video footage and research documentation please visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes.

Second Group of Whooping Cranes Released at White Lake WCA

Release Date: 12/27/2011

LDWF biologist opens holding pen at White Lake WCA to release 16 juvenile whooping cranes into the marsh Dec. 27.
Single juvenile whooping crane explores the marsh at White Lake WCA Dec. 27, following its release.
Whooping crane in flight over marsh at White Lake WCA following the release of 16 juvenile cranes Dec. 27.

Dec. 27, 2011 – Sixteen juvenile whooping cranes were released into the wild today at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan. The juvenile cranes join three adults that were released in March as part of an experimental population being monitored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
 
The cranes were delivered to southwest Louisiana on Dec. 1 from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. LDWF is working cooperatively with U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), USGS, and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to establish a non-migratory population in the state.

The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts and by state law. Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance.
 
Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds similar to white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese.  However, a red head and black facial markings along with a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7-8 feet make them very distinctive.  In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.
 
Juvenile whooping cranes are primarily white with some cinnamon-brown feathers remaining on their body, primarily on their head and neck. Their wing tips are black like an adult, but they lack the red head.
 
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.
 
For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit www.wlf.la.gov, or contact Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov  or 225-765-5115. For photos, video footage and research documentation please visit: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

L.D.W.F. Receives Second Group of Whooping Cranes at White Lake W.C.A. as Part of Restoration Project

Release Date: 12/05/2011

Dec. 5, 2011– A second group of juvenile whooping cranes was delivered Dec. 1 to White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan as part of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) species’ restoration project in progress.

“Our biologists will continue their work to establish a non-migratory population of whooping cranes in coastal Louisiana to assist with this endangered species recovery effort,” said Robert Barham, LDWF Secretary.

Sixteen whooping cranes were flown to southwest Louisiana on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) aircraft from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md. The White Lake location in Vermilion Parish is the site where 10 whooping cranes, the first cohort in the long-term restoration, were released in March. That group of birds marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

"This is an impressive project launched by the Louisiana Department of Fisheries and Wildlife to bring the whooping crane back to this part of its historic range and marks a bold step for its ultimate recovery," said Cindy Dohner, USFWS Southeast Regional Director. "We are excited about their work and proud of our partnership with Secretary Barham and his agency as we continue working together to bring this majestic bird back to Louisiana."

LDWF continues to work cooperatively with USFWS, USGS, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit  and the International Crane Foundation to bring the species back to the state. Project funding is derived from LDWF species restoration dedicated funds, federal grants and private/corporate donations.

"The USFWS Migratory Bird Program is honored to participate in the efforts of adding additional birds to the group of reintroduced wild whooping cranes to Louisiana." says Jerome Ford,  Assistant Director,Migratory Birds Program."Our pilot biologists werethrilled to contribute by using their Kodiak planes to ensure the whooping cranes’ safearrival."

The whooping cranes Louisiana receives are designated as a non-essential, experimental population (NEP) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This designation and its implementing regulation were developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area.

Of the 10 cranes released in March from White Lake, three have survived and continue to be tracked by transmitter devices attached to each bird.  Two cranes were killed by predators, one was euthanized due to illness, two are missing and unaccounted for and two were shot and killed on Oct. 9 in Jefferson Davis Parish. LDWF Enforcement Division agents have charged two juveniles, who were alleged to have been involved with the two crane deaths on Oct. 9, with taking non-game birds/no season.

Hunters, fishermen and anyone who spends time in the marshes and rice fields of southwest Louisiana should welcome the opportunity to see these magnificent birds. Although whooping cranes in Louisiana are considered an “experimental, non-essential population” under the Endangered Species Act, they are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be pursued, harassed, captured or killed.

Waterfowl hunters should be accustomed to seeing large-bodied, white birds with black wing-tips, such as white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, which must be distinguished from the legally-hunted snow geese.  Mature whooping cranes are equally identifiable as they stand five feet tall and have a wingspan of 7-8 feet. Easily identifiable characteristics of whooping cranes in flight include black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail. Standing whooping cranes also exhibit the bustle of rump feathers more pronounced than other large white birds.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-251 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge. CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 

For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit www.wlf.la.gov; or contact Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or 337-536-7292. News media outlets interested in visiting the White Lake WCA facility can contact Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5115. For photos, video footage and research documentation please visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes.

Two Whooping Cranes Found Dead in Jefferson Davis Parish

Release Date: 10/11/2011

LDWF Enforcement Division Identifies Two Juveniles as Suspects in Shooting

To request b-roll footage and photos of the whooping crane re-introduction, email aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Oct. 11, 2011 -- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents have identified two juveniles for their alleged role in the illegal shooting of two whooping cranes in Jefferson Davis Parish.

According to an eyewitness account, two juveniles stopped on Lyons Road in between Mouton and Guidry roads south of Jennings at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 9.  The eyewitness said they shot from their truck and killed two whooping cranes.

LDWF agents and biologists were notified yesterday morning, Oct. 10, and retrieved the dead birds, which were a part of LDWF's whooping crane reintroduction program.  Agents were able to locate the suspected juveniles Monday night based on information from the eyewitness account.

"Losing two cranes, especially in such a thoughtless manner, is a huge setback in the department’s efforts to re-establish a whooping crane population in Louisiana,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We take this careless crime very seriously.”

LDWF received 10 whooping cranes in February of this year from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Research Facility in Laurel, Md., and placed them in the coastal marsh of Vermilion Parish within LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA).  This re-introduced population, which will be annually supplemented with future cohorts, marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

LDWF is working cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), USGS, the International Crane Foundation and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state.  This non-migratory flock of whooping cranes is designated as a non-essential, experimental population and is protected under state law and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"This is a profound setback to the many people and organizations who have worked so hard to bring this magnificent bird back to Louisiana," said Cindy Dohner, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Whooping cranes, the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, were first added to the federal status of an endangered species on March 11, 1967.  The reintroduction at White Lake WCA is part of an ongoing recovery effort coordinated by the USFWS.

Historically, both a resident and migratory population of whooping cranes were present in Louisiana through the early 1940s.  Whooping cranes inhabited the marshes and ridges of the state’s southwest Chenier Coastal Plain, as well as the uplands of prairie terrace habitat to the north.  Within this area, whooping cranes used three major habitats: tall grass prairie, freshwater marsh, and brackish/salt marsh.  The Louisiana crane population was not able to withstand the pressure of human encroachment, primarily the conversion of nesting habitat to agricultural acreage, as well as hunting and specimen collection, which also occurred across North America.  The last bird in southwest Louisiana was removed to a sanctuary in 1950.

The only self-sustaining wild population of whooping cranes migrates between Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.  Like those in the eastern migratory population, it remains vulnerable to extinction from continued loss of habitat or natural or man-made catastrophes.  Multiple efforts are underway to reduce this risk and bring this bird further along its path to recovery.  This includes increasing populations in the wild, ongoing efforts to establish a migratory population in the eastern United States, and establishing a resident population in Louisiana.

There are about 570 whooping cranes left in the world, only 400 in the wild. About 100 cranes are in the eastern migratory population.  For the 11th time in as many years, ultralight-led captive reared whooping cranes are learning their migration route to wintering sites in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.  Ten young whooping cranes began their journey on Oct. 9, 2011.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2465, or Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5115.

Whooping Cranes Return Celebrated at White Lake W.C.A.

Release Date: 02/22/2011

Feb. 22, 2011 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) welcomed project partners today to White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) to celebrate the return of the whooping crane to the marshes of southwest Louisiana.

“Species restoration successes will signal coastal restoration successes as we rebuild our wetlands, and we must make the coordinated effort to restore species that have been decimated by man-made or natural changes to wildlife habitat,” said Robert Barham, LDWF Secretary. “We applaud the efforts of the biologists who have worked to bring this magnificent bird back to Louisiana.”

Ten whooping cranes received this month from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Research Facility in Laurel, Md., have been placed in the coastal marsh of Vermilion Parish within LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands WCA. This re-introduced population, which will be annually supplemented with future cohorts, marks the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

“We strongly support the state of Louisiana in this historic effort for the ultimate recovery of the magnificent whooping crane,” said Cindy Dohner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “We are proud to be partners with Secretary Barham, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the International Crane Foundation in this great effort.”

LDWF worked cooperatively with USFWS, USGS, the International Crane Foundation and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state. Project funding is derived from LDWF species restoration dedicated funds, federal grants and private/corporate donations. LDWF’s 10-year project plan requires annual project funding of $400,000.

The new, non-migratory flock of whooping cranes is designated as a non-essential, experimental population (NEP) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This designation and its implementing regulation were developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area.

Whooping cranes, the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, were first added to the federal status of an endangered species on March 11, 1967. The reintroduction at White Lake is part of an ongoing recovery effort coordinated by the USFWS. LDWF biologists will manage the project at White Lake WCA.

Historically, both a resident and migratory population of whooping cranes were present in Louisiana through the early 1940s. Whooping cranes inhabited the marshes and ridges of the state’s southwest Chenier Coastal Plain, as well as the uplands of prairie terrace habitat to the north. Within this area, whooping cranes used three major habitats: tall grass prairie, freshwater marsh, and brackish/salt marsh. The Louisiana crane population was not able to withstand the pressure of human encroachment, primarily the conversion of nesting habitat to agricultural acreage, as well as hunting and specimen collection, which also occurred across North America.

The White Lake crane population’s NEP designation allows for uninterrupted daily activities of area landowners and the general public. This provision additionally provides citizens protection in the event of accidental harm to the birds resulting from actions that are accidental or incidental to an otherwise lawful activity, including agricultural practices, outdoor recreation and hunting. The intentional harm or killing of any NEP-designated whooping crane, however, would still be a violation of federal law punishable under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“We want anyone in the marsh near White Lake to enjoy the moment should they encounter one or more of the experimental birds in the wild during this re-population effort,” said Robert Love, LDWF Coastal and Non-game Resources Division Administrator. “As long as the cranes are observed at a distance, they should adapt to occasional human encounters and not feel threatened.”

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.
For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit www.wlf.la.gov or contact Tom Hess at 337-538-2276 or thess@wlf.la.gov; or Carrie Salyers at csalyers@wlf.la.gov.

For additional photos, video footage and research documentation please visit: ftp://ftp.wlf.louisiana.gov/Whooping-Crane-Videos/.

LDWF Announces Whooping Cranes Return to Louisiana

Release Date: 02/07/2011

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced today that it will be re-introducing the whooping crane to Louisiana later this month. The Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) cleared the way for the crane's return with approval for an experimental population in southwest Louisiana.

Governor Bobby Jindal said, “Adding the whooping crane to our diverse collection of bird species further demonstrates our state’s commitment to restoring and revitalizing our coastal regions. This announcement today is another step forward in growing and enriching our state’s wildlife species and preserving our one-of-a-kind Louisiana wetlands.”

The last record of a whooping crane in Louisiana dates back to 1950, when the last surviving whooping crane was removed from Vermilion Parish property that is now part of LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA). Habitat loss and unrestricted hunting led to population declines nationwide and on the North American continent in the last century. The last bird in southwest Louisiana was removed to a sanctuary in 1950. LDWF in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit plan to release the first group of ten non-migratory whooping cranes at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in February. 

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said, “LDWF has proven through implementing recovery efforts for species like the American alligator and the brown pelican, our state’s expertise and willingness in implementing a long-term restoration plan for our most delicate wildlife.” 

The proposed designation of a non-migratory flock of whooping cranes for reintroduction to Louisiana was first published in the Federal Register on August 19, 2010. Public comments were received and two public hearings (Gueydan and Baton Rouge) were held to allow public comment. Comments were accepted through October 18, 2010 and were generally found to be supportive of the overall reintroduction effort.

The non-essential, experimental flock coming to Louisiana will carry that designation under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This designation and its implementing regulation, as announced February 3 in the Federal Register, are developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area. 

Whooping cranes are the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, first added to the list of endangered species on March 11, 1967. Louisiana’s reintroduction is part of a larger ongoing recovery effort led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners for this highly imperiled species, which was on the verge of extinction in the 1940s and even today has only about 400 individuals in the wild.

The only self-sustaining wild population of whooping cranes migrates between Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Like those in the eastern migratory population, it remains vulnerable to extinction from continued loss of habitat or natural or man-made catastrophes. Multiple efforts are underway to reduce this risk and bring this magnificent bird further along its path to recovery. This includes increasing populations in the wild, ongoing efforts to establish a migratory population in the eastern United States, and establishing a resident population in Louisiana.

For more information on whooping cranes and the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit the LDWF’s website at www.wlf.la.gov or the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov/southeast and the International Crane Foundation at: http://www.savingcranes.org/

For more information contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov.

September Hearings Allow for Public Comment on Proposed Reintroduction of Non-migratory Whooping Cranes in Louisiana

Release Date: 09/07/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will host two public hearings this month to determine if there are concerns on the proposal to re-establish a non-migratory flock of whooping cranes in the wetlands of southwestern Louisiana.

Public hearings will be held:

Sept. 15, 2010

Gueydan Civic Center, 901 Wilkinson St., Gueydan, LA 70542

Sept. 16, 2010

LDWF headquarters, 2000 Quail Drive Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Each public hearing will last from 7 - 9 p.m. Before each hearing, an open house from 6 to 7 p.m. will provide an additional opportunity for the public to gain information and ask questions about the proposed rule.

All comments received at a public hearing, both verbal and written, will be considered in making a final decision. If this proposal is approved, the reintroduction effort could begin during early 2011.

Additionally, the public can comment on the proposal on or before October 18. 2010 through any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R4-ES-2010-0057; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.
E-mails or faxes will not be accepted. All comments will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that any personal information provided will be posted. 

 For more information, contact Carrie Salyers at 337-538-2276 or csalyers@wlf.la.gov or Bill Brooks at 904-731-3136 or Billy_Brooks@fws.gov.

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