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  • WCEP: March 23, 2009 News Release
    grows we re eagerly watching for pairing and nesting activity another sign of progress in this project and key to long term success Many of the whooping cranes in the reintroduced eastern migratory population have begun their spring migration The first whooping crane to return to Wisconsin this spring crane 28 05 was observed in Dodge County on March 7 Whooping crane 28 05 is from WCEP s Class of 2005 Direct Autumn Release DAR program Biologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service rear cranes for this program at Necedah NWR and release them in the company of older cranes from whom the young birds learn the migration route This is the fourth year WCEP has used this DAR method Whooping cranes that take part in the ultralight and DAR reintroductions are hatched at the U S Geological Survey s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel Md and at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo Wis Chicks are raised under a strict isolation protocol and to ensure the birds remain wild handlers adhere to a no talking rule and wear costumes designed to mask the human form In 2001 Operation Migration s pilots led the first whooping crane chicks conditioned to follow their ultralight aircraft surrogates south from Necedah NWR to Chassahowitzka NWR Each subsequent year WCEP biologists and pilots have conditioned and guided additional groups of juvenile cranes to Chassahowitzka NWR Having been shown the way once the young birds self initiate their return migration in the spring and in subsequent years continue to migrate on their own This year in addition to wintering at Chassahowitzka NWR half of the ultralight led Class of 2008 is spending the winter at the St Marks NWR along Florida s Gulf Coast This is the first year the cranes have wintered at two separate locations The decision to split the cohort comes after the loss in February 2007 of 17 of the 18 Class of 2006 whooping cranes in a severe storm at Chassahowitzka NWR WCEP hopes the two wintering locations will help reduce the risk of another catastrophic loss These two groups of birds have not begun their spring migrations they remain at the Chassahowitzka and St Marks National Wildlife Refuges In the spring and fall project staff from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service track and monitor the released cranes in an effort to learn as much as possible about their unassisted journeys and the habitat choices they make both along the way and on their summering and wintering grounds Most graduated classes of whooping cranes spend the summer in central Wisconsin where they use areas on or near the Necedah NWR as well as other public and private lands Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s Today there are only about 515 birds in existence approximately 365 of them in the wild Aside from the 86 birds reintroduced by WCEP the only

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2009/nr23March2009.html (2016-05-02)
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  • WCEP: Jan. 15, 2009 News Release
    to visit the St Marks NWR visitor center to learn more about the whooping crane re introduction and ultralight project The cranes will begin to head north to their summering grounds in the Spring The staff of St Marks National Wildlife Refuge request visitors to be respectful and aware of the safety of the whooping cranes and their pens Anyone who encounters a whooping crane in the wild should give them the respect and distance they need If you see a whooping crane do not approach birds on foot within 600 feet try to remain in your vehicle do not approach in a vehicle within 600 feet or if on a public road within 300 feet Also please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you It is very important that all visitors to St Marks National Wildlife Refuge respect the area closed for the cranes Any interaction with humans is detrimental to the birds learning wild behavior There are now 73 migratory whooping cranes in the wild in eastern North America including the first whooping crane chick to hatch in the wild in Wisconsin in more than a century Many of these cranes have settled into their wintering locations in parts of the Southeast including Georgia Alabama South Carolina Tennessee and Florida State partners from Wisconsin Illinois Kentucky Tennessee Alabama and Georgia provided strong support throughout the migration In late October biologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service also released six additional chicks into the company of older birds at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin in the hopes that the chicks learn would the migration route from adult whoopers or sandhill cranes This technique called direct autumn release DAR is being tested to complement the known success of the ultralight led migrations Chicks for direct autumn release were reared in the field and released with older birds after fledging or learning to fly This method of reintroduction has been extensively tested and proven successful with sandhill cranes released with other sandhills but it remains to be seen if it will work with whooping cranes or with mixed species In 2001 project partner Operation Migration s pilots led the first whooping crane chicks conditioned to follow the ultralight aircraft south from Necedah NWR to Chassahowitzka NWR Each subsequent year biologists and pilots have conditioned and guided additional groups of juvenile cranes to Chassahowitzka The whooping crane chicks that take part in the reintroduction project are hatched at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland There the young cranes are introduced to ultralight aircraft and raised in isolation from humans To ensure the impressionable cranes remain wild project biologists and pilots adhere to a strict no talking rule broadcast recorded crane calls and wear costumes designed to mask the human form whenever they are around the cranes New classes of cranes are brought to Necedah NWR each June to begin a summer of conditioning behind the ultralights to

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2009/nr15Jan2009.html (2016-05-02)
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  • WCEP News Release: 14 Whooping Cranes Over Kentucky
    colleagues in helping to make this project a success Quite simply we couldn t do this without them Each fall pilots from Operation Migration also a founding partner leads a new generation of whooping cranes behind their ultralight aircraft to wintering grounds in Florida The cranes will make the return flight on their own to the Upper Midwest in the spring The ultralight led flock from Necedah NWR passed through Wisconsin and Illinois It will fly through Kentucky Tennessee Alabama and Georgia to reach the wintering locations in Florida The duration of the migration is completely dependant on weather It is unknown how long it will take the team to reach their final destination Last year s journey lasted 97 days To help speed the migration and improve safety for the birds and the pilots a new route was developed this year that takes the team around the Appalachian Mountains rather than over them For the first time they will pass through the state of Alabama In addition to the 14 ultralight led birds biologists from the International Crane Foundation ICF and the Service reared six whooping cranes at Necedah NWR The birds were released in the company of older cranes from whom the young birds will learn the migration route This is the fourth year WCEP has used this Direct Autumn Release method which supplements the ultralight migrations Whooping cranes that take part in the ultralight and Direct Autumn Release reintroductions are hatched at the U S Geological Survey s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel Md and at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo Wis Chicks are raised under a strict isolation protocol and to ensure the birds remain wild handlers adhere to a no talking rule and wear costumes designed to mask the human form Most of the reintroduced whooping cranes spend the summer in central Wisconsin where they use areas on the Necedah NWR as well as various state and private lands Reintroduced whooping cranes have also spent time in Minnesota Iowa Illinois Michigan and other upper Midwest states In the spring and fall project staff from ICF and the Service track and monitor the released cranes in an effort to learn as much as possible about their unassisted migrations and the habitat choices they make along the way The birds are monitored during the winter in Florida by WCEP project staff ICF and Service biologists continue to monitor the birds while they are in their summer locations The Whooping Crane Recovery Team has established a target number for this reintroduction Once there are at least 125 individuals including 25 breeding pairs migrating in this eastern corridor the population could be considered self sustaining With 68 birds now in the wild and another 20 soon to be released this project is well past the half way mark Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s Today there are only about 500 birds in existence 350 of them in the wild Aside from the

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2008/NR01Dec08.html (2016-05-02)
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  • WCEP: WCEP statement on Class of 2008
    after the loss in February 2007 of 17 of the 18 Class of 2006 whooping cranes in a severe storm at Chassahowitzka NWR WCEP has spent the past year examining the circumstances of the deaths While the loss resulted from a rare and severe storm WCEP is exploring all options to safeguard against such a loss in the future In making the decision to divide the next group of ultralight led cranes between two winter sites WCEP s highest priority concerns were maximizing first year survival of young whooping cranes including avoiding the catastrophic loss of a class group and maximizing opportunities for the young cranes to socialize and form pair bonds on the winter grounds After studying potential alternative winter sites WCEP identified St Marks NWR as a suitable release site The Chassahowitzka and St Marks sites have different habitat characteristics and each meets many of WCEP s priority objectives for winter management of the cranes Splitting the flock between Chassahowitzka and St Marks meets the highest priority concerns for the safety and well being of the young whooping cranes and offers an opportunity to learn more about what is best for these endangered birds Evaluating the response of the cranes will improve WCEP s understanding of whooping crane ecology and inform future management Wintering the young cranes at two separate sites in Florida will require greater effort and expense but will protect the tremendous investment of dollars and hope invested in these magnificent birds The protective benefits to the reintroduced cohorts make such expenditures viable and prudent WCEP s initial assessment is that the split is feasible even with the extra expense and we will be looking for ways to fund the additional costs There are additional operational and logistic factors that need to be considered and addressed

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2008/Stmnt2008WinterSites.html (2016-05-02)
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  • Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership - Ultralight-led Whooping Cranes Arrive at Florida Wintering Grounds
    since WCEP began reintroducing whooping cranes Unsuitable flying weather caused delays at nearly every stopover along the migration route WCEP biologists say that the lengthy trip and late arrival will not affect the birds ability to make their unassisted migration northward this spring In addition to the 17 ultralight led birds seven cranes made their first southward migration this fall as part of WCEP s Direct Autumn Release program Biologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service reared the seven cranes at Necedah NWR and released them in the company of older cranes in hopes that the young birds would learn the migration route These seven birds are currently at several locations in Tennessee In 2001 Operation Migration s pilots led the first whooping crane chicks conditioned to follow their ultralight surrogates from Necedah NWR to Chassahowitzka NWR Each subsequent year biologists and pilots have conditioned and guided additional groups of juvenile cranes to Chassahowitzka Whooping cranes that take part in the ultralight and Direct Autumn Release reintroductions are hatched at the U S Geological Survey s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel Md and the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo Wis Chicks are raised under a strict isolation protocol and to ensure the birds remain wild handlers adhere to a no talking rule and wear costumes designed to mask the human form New classes of cranes are brought to Necedah NWR each June to begin a summer of conditioning behind the ultralights to prepare them for their fall migration Pilots lead the birds on gradually longer training flights throughout the summer until the young cranes are deemed ready to follow the aircraft along the migration route Most graduated classes of whoopers spend the summer in central Wisconsin where they use areas on or near the Necedah NWR as well as other public and private lands In the spring and fall project staff from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service track and monitor the released cranes in an effort to learn as much as possible about their unassisted journeys and the habitat choices they make both along the way and on their summering ground Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s Today there are only about 500 birds in existence 350 of them in the wild Aside from the 76 Wisconsin Florida birds the only other migrating population of whooping cranes nests at the Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and winters at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast This year the Wood Buffalo Aransas flock reached a record size as biologists counted 266 individuals on the Aransas wintering grounds A non migrating flock of approximately 41 birds lives year round in the central Florida Kissimmee region The remaining 150 whooping cranes are in captivity in zoos and breeding facilities around North America Go here for information about the Aransas and Florida flocks Whooping cranes named

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2008/NR27Jan08.html (2016-05-02)
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  • WCEP: Young Whooping Cranes Will Learn Migration Route from Their Elders
    birds said Jim Hook President and CEO of the International Crane Foundation We are delighted with the increase in cranes this year as it represents more than the cumulative total of DAR birds released in past years We hope the increased population of DAR cranes will allow us to better evaluate the future success of the Direct Autumn Release project Of the 10 cranes that were recently released one was killed on the night of October 29 by a predator Biologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service are tracking the remaining nine cranes using radio telemetry picking up radio waves emitted from leg transmitters on the birds In addition to the nine DAR birds 17 whooping cranes are currently being led south by project partner Operation Migration s ultralight aircraft The ultralight led birds are currently in Winnebago County Ill They departed Necedah NWR on October 13 Whooping cranes that take part in the ultralight and Direct Autumn Release reintroductions are hatched at the U S Geological Survey s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel Md and at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo Wis Chicks are raised under a strict isolation protocol and to ensure the birds remain wild handlers adhere to a no talking rule and wear costumes designed to mask the human form Each year since 2001 ultralight pilots with Operation Migration have conditioned and led juvenile whooping cranes to follow their aircraft on their first migration south Each year s new class of young cranes is shipped from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to Necedah NWR in June to begin their summer of flight training behind Operation Migration s ultralights in preparation for their migration south Pilots lead the birds on gradually longer training flights over the refuge throughout the summer until the young cranes have sufficient stamina to follow the ultralights along the migration route Graduated classes of whooping cranes spend the summer in central Wisconsin where they use areas on or near Necedah NWR as well as various state and private lands WCEP asks anyone who encounters a whooping crane in the wild to please give them the respect and distance they need Do not approach birds on foot within 200 yards try to remain in your vehicle and do not approach in a vehicle within 100 yards Also please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you Finally do not trespass on private property in an attempt to view whooping cranes Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s Today there are only about 350 of them in the wild Aside from the birds reintroduced by WCEP the only other migrating population of whooping cranes nests at the Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada and winters at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast A non migrating flock of approximately 50 birds lives year round in the central Florida Kissimmee region

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2007/nr-01nov07.html (2016-05-02)
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  • WCEP: Seventeen Endangered Whooping Cranes Take to the Sky on Ultralight-guided Flight to Florida
    leads the ultralight migration It has consistently taken us 22 to 23 flying days to cover the 1 250 miles from here to Florida However each year it seems to take a longer period to get those 23 good weather mornings and last season we were on the road for 76 days The team works very hard to prepare these birds for their first migration and they deserve a break We are asking everyone to hope and pray for good weather this year and speed the birds to their new winter home In addition to the 17 birds being led south by ultralights biologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service reared 10 whooping cranes at Necedah NWR The birds will be released in the company of older cranes in hopes that the young whooping cranes learn the migration route part of WCEP s Direct Autumn Release program which supplements the successful ultralight migrations Whooping cranes that take part in the ultralight and Direct Autumn Release reintroductions are hatched at the U S Geological Survey s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel Md and at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo Wis Chicks are raised under a strict isolation protocol and to ensure the birds remain wild handlers adhere to a no talking rule and wear costumes designed to mask the human form Each year since 2001 ultralight pilots of project partner Operation Migration have conditioned and led juvenile whooping cranes to follow their aircraft on their first migration south Each year s new class of young cranes is shipped from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to Necedah NWR in June to begin their summer of flight training behind Operation Migration s ultralights in preparation for their migration south Pilots lead the birds on gradually longer training flights over the refuge throughout the summer until the young cranes have sufficient stamina to follow the ultralights along the migration route Graduated classes of whooping cranes spend the summer in central Wisconsin where they use areas on or near Necedah NWR as well as various state and private lands In the spring and fall project staff from the International Crane Foundation and the U S Fish and Wildlife Service track and monitor the released cranes in an effort to learn as much as possible about their unassisted journeys and the habitat choices they make both along the way and on their summering ground WCEP asks anyone who encounters a whooping crane in the wild to please give them the respect and distance they need Do not approach birds on foot within 200 yards try to remain in your vehicle and do not approach in a vehicle within 100 yards Also please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you Finally do not trespass on private property in an attempt to view whooping cranes Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s Today there are only about 350 of

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2007/nr-101307.html (2016-05-02)
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  • WCEP: Kohlers and Windway Capital Corp. Flight Team Honored for Support of Whooping Crane Reintroduction
    highly imperiled species in eastern North America The Interior Department s U S Fish and Wildlife Service and U S Geological Survey are among the nine founding members of this partnership Terry and Mary Kohler and their flight team at Windway Capital Corp have truly helped to make wildlife history with their generous support of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership said Robyn Thorson the Fish and Wildlife Service s Midwest Regional Director Their dedication is a testament to the human spirit For nearly two decades the Kohlers have made significant contributions to migratory bird conservation in the United States and abroad From 1987 to 1996 they made annual flights to Canada s Wood Buffalo National Park to bring back the eggs that have served as the foundation for the reintroduced eastern migratory whooping crane population which migrates between Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf coast of Florida Windway aircraft and pilots have also flown countless missions to identify crane roosting and nesting sites locate and track migrating birds and transfer eggs and chicks to propagation facilities including the U S Geological Survey s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center The Kohlers have also provided substantial funding to the whooping crane reintroduction effort in the form of matching grants and they donated ultralight aircraft for the project and purchased a hangar for them As a result of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership s efforts there are 56 migrating whooping cranes in eastern North America where just six years ago there were none The Kohlers have also made important contributions to international crane conservation making a record breaking around the world flight to deliver Siberian crane eggs from Wisconsin to Russia The Siberian crane is one of the world s most endangered birds and a

    Original URL path: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org/newsroom/2007/nr-050907.html (2016-05-02)
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