- Posted September 29, 2013 by
St. Marie, Wisconsin
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Tell us the Good Stuff!
Operation Migration to depart for Florida Monday with whooping cranes
Operation Migration leads captive-bred whooping cranes through their first migration south, via ultra-light aircraft that the chicks have been trained to follow since hatching.
Birdwatchers often stand along the highway near the cranes' enclosure in White River Marsh, Wisconsin, to watch the birds go through morning training exercises. Roadside crane-watching is especially popular during Crane Festival, which happened earlier this month.
This is a part of the whooping crane reintroduction efforts led by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. It's an effort to reestablish a flyway between Wisconsin and Florida that disappeared when whooping cranes nearly went extinct in the 1940s. The cranes from this year's guided flock are destined for St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
Whooping cranes are among the most endangered animals in North America. According to USGS biologist John French, speaking at the 2013 Whooping Crane Festival in Berlin, Wisconsin, the last count of whooping cranes was 575, with both captive and wild flocks included.
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