TO ALL INTERESTED PARTIES (from U.S. Dept. of Interior)
October 9, 1996
Beginning in mid-October, sandhill cranes will be following an ultralight aircraft across portions of Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. The following information is provided to answer any telephone inquiries you may receive.
Captive-reared sandhill cranes will be led in a migration by two ultralight aircraft from southeastern Idaho to Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico. In New Mexico, the cranes will be released to join wintering wild cranes. Wild cranes learn migration behavior, routes, and wintering areas from their parents. This is the second year of research to test whether captive-reared sandhill cranes can be taught to follow a specific migration route and use a wintering area selected by wildlife managers. The objective is to develop a technique for reintroducing endangered whooping cranes in areas where migration is required. The technique may be tested on captive-reared whooping cranes in 1997. If the results are satisfactory, the technique will be used to reintroduce whooping cranes to a Canadian eastern prairie province. The endangered whooping cranes number approximately 220 in the wild and 130 in captivity. The only self-sustaining wild population nests in Northwest Territories, Canada, and winters on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
This population is at risk because its Texas winter habitat borders the Gulf Intracoastal Water Way. This area is one of the heaviest trafficked waterways in the world, where an oil spill could jeopardize this population. To reduce the threat to survival of this species the Canadian Wildlife Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hope to reintroduce a migratory population in Canada late this decade.
Mr. Kent Clegg, a private contractor, is the principle researcher in this program. Mr. Clegg is supported by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and funds from the Biological Resources Division of U.S. Geological Survey, World Wildlife Fund-Canada, Whooping Crane Conservation Association, and the International Crane Foundation.
Jim Lewis, Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Contributors to the 1996 Project: World Wildlife Fund of Canada, Windway Capitol Corp., Friends of Bosque, Portneuf Valley Audubon, Whooping Crane Conservation Association, Newton Heuberger
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