whooping cranes

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.

2010-264

L.D.W.F. Announces Proposed Reintroduction of Non-migratory Whooping Cranes into Southwest Louisiana

Release Date: 08/18/2010

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will attempt to establish a non-migratory flock of whooping cranes that lives and breeds in the wetlands, marshes and prairies of southwestern Louisiana. If this proposal is approved, the reintroduction effort could begin during early 2011.

The process began today with an announcement in the Federal Register seeking public comment on a proposed rule to reintroduce the endangered whooping crane into habitat in its historic range on the state-owned White Lake Wetland Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana.

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham praised this lofty proposal to reintroduce whooping cranes back into the wetlands of the Chenier coastal plain. “Crane species around the world depend on coastal wetlands, and the proposed efforts would reunite this indigenous species back into some of the most productive and expansive coastal freshwater wetlands left in America,” he said.

The reintroduction is being proposed as part of an ongoing recovery effort for this highly imperiled species, which was on the verge of extinction in the 1940s and even today has only about 395 individuals in the wild (550 worldwide); none in Louisiana. 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 and, like those in the eastern populations, remains vulnerable to extinction from continued loss of habitat or natural or man-made catastrophes. Multiple efforts are underway to reduce this risk by increasing populations in the wild, including ongoing efforts to establish a migratory population in the eastern United States.

“With just under 400 birds in the wild, the vast majority of which winter along the Texas coast, whooping cranes are among our nation’s most threatened species. Our proposal to reintroduce a population in Louisiana would not only help protect this iconic species from extinction but would also help us take another big step in our campaign to restore the Gulf Coast’s wildlife, marshes, and coasts to health,” said Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior.

USFWS proposes the new, reintroduced, non-migratory population of whooping cranes be designated as a non-essential, experimental population (NEP) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This proposed designation and its implementing regulation are developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area. The designation allows for take of whooping cranes when such take is accidental and incidental to an otherwise lawful activity, including agriculture practices, recreation, and hunting. The intentional take (including killing or harm) of any NEP-designated whooping crane would still be a violation of federal law punishable under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

“LDWF’s wildlife biologists have decades of experience restoring wildlife and have led several successful wildlife restoration efforts including the American alligator, the brown pelican and the bald eagle,” said Robert Love, LDWF Coastal and Non-game Resources Division Administrator. “These are examples of coastal wildlife species which have been successfully restored, additional to white tailed deer, wild turkey and black bear populations, all upland species which have been, or are currently being restored.”

There are approximately 1.3 million acres of marsh, open water, and Chenier habitat in southwestern coastal Louisiana. The cranes would be reintroduced to the White Lake area and are not expected to be affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Whooping cranes historically occurred in Louisiana in both a resident, non-migratory flock and a migratory flock that wintered in Louisiana. The proposed release area is the location where whooping cranes were historically documented raising young in Louisiana.

“This reintroduction of a new non-migratory flock would not only restore the whooping crane to part of its historic range but also would provide another geographically distinct population,” said Cindy Dohner, USFWS Southeast Regional Director. “We look forward to continued work with our partners at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to aid in the recovery of this magnificent bird.”

Today’s Federal Register announcement includes the proposed rule. USFWS has drafted an environmental assessment (EA), which evaluates several alternatives for establishing a new non-migratory population of whooping cranes. USFWS is seeking comments on both documents, and also specifically the following: (1) the geographic boundary for the NEP; and, (2) effects of the reintroduction on other native species and the ecosystem.

To allow adequate time to conduct this review, USFWS requests that information be received on or before October 18. 2010. You may submit information by one of the following methods:

    http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/img/7x9/orange_arrow.gif); ">
  • 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.

LDWF and USFWS will hold public hearing at the following locations: Gueydan, Louisiana, on September 15, 2010 at the Gueydan Civic Center, 901 Wilkinson St., Gueydan, LA 70542; and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on September 16, 2010 at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, 2000 Quail Drive Baton Rouge, LA 70808.

Each public hearing will last from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Before each hearing, an open house will be held to 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.

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

2010-247

Syndicate content