Whooping Crane Whooping Crane
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Spring 2005: Three Cranes Lose Their Way


Problem: On their second journey north, "ultra-cranes" #301, #309 and #318 were found in Ontario, Canada in April 2005. They were lost! With two of the Great Lakes separating them from the Wisconsin reintroduction area, it is unlikely they would make it back on their own. What to do?

Plan? These valuable whooping cranes will most likely be captured and returned to Wisconsin in hopes of reorienting them. Canada's Operation Migration team leader and pilot Joe Duff says, "I can attest to Ontario being a great place for birds and people, and we would love to see them eventually disperse into Canada. But for now, they need to be near the rest of the eastern flock population. The more opportunity they have to mingle with other eastern flock whooping cranes, the greater the chance of proper mate selection and eventually breeding."

These three cranes have been lost before! After being led south by ultalight planes in 2003, they became lost on their first journey north in spring 2004. Where did they go? Find out here:

Important: Joe Duff explains why the lost birds need to get back near their flock:

"In April, 2005, the gender ratio of this population of whooping cranes stands at 28 males to 17 females. If they were all to pair-bond and mate, that would mean that 11 males would have no way to pass on their lineage. As a result, the viable population is really only 34. Hence the importance of providing every opportunity to mix. This logic is balanced against the desire to let wild birds be wild, and the fear that moving them in crates may leave them confused as to their whereabouts."

WHAT NEXT? You'll always find latest news about #301, #309 and #318 in our life story pages for the HY 2003 cranes.

Try This! Journaling Question
  • What would you do about the three lost cranes? Before making your plan, gather information about what has happened when other whooping cranes have been captured or handled. (See crane biographies in the "Meet the Flock" charts.) List the risks and the benefits of your plan. Do you see why there is no easy answer?


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