Operation Migration Whooping Crane Green County stopover 2006 took place last week. It probably was the shortest stop in Green County since the first ultralight aircraft guided whoopers was begun back in October 2001. Non-endangered sandhill cranes were used in 2000 to test the process. Then in 2001 the first flock of juvenile whoopers left Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin and were guided successfully to the central west coast of Florida and the remote island where the cranes spent the winter on the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. That small flock represents the first migratory whooping cranes in the skies over eastern North America in more than a century. There is a wild whooper population that had dwindled to 15 birds in 1941 because of unregulated hunting and habitat destruction. That wild flock has slowly increased through the years. They summer and raise their young in the remote wetlands of the Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories of Canada and winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas. They face environment problems, don’t receive as much publicity and attention as the human raised cranes. Wildlife officials and biologists had long been concerned that having all the whooping cranes using just one wintering and breeding location could lead to their being wiped out by disease, weather or human impacts.
In 1993 efforts began to introduce a non-migratory flock in central Florida in the Kissimmee Prairie region. Some of those cranes have reached reproductive age. People working with the crane project tell me the public should be made aware that we should not feed or approach the whoopers. They must remain “wild” to survive. This is a problem with resident crane population (non migratory) in area where they come in contact with humans and no longer fear people, animals or traffic. Whoopers that are led by ultralight and rest stop in Green County on their first migration go to a remote island where they winter on the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge on the central west coast of Florida. Weather is determining factor on the first migration trip from Necedah National Wildlife Refuge through seven states to winter on Florida coast. This year unusual weather delayed the travel from the very start. On Sunday, October 22, the weather and the forecast sounded favorable, decision was made to take off. They arrived at the Green County stop late in the day and took off Monday morning planning to get to the northern Illinois stop before predicted rain could again interfere. It was a beautiful morning, clear but cool. This year was probably the shortest stopover in Green County ever. After spending the winter in the south, the first year whoopers return on their own in spring and later migrations. Since popularity of this project many folks follow progress on the Internet.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:
If we growl all day we can expect to feel dog tired at night.