New Orleans,
13:04 PM

Audubon Prepares Young Whooping Cranes for Release

Four whooping crane colts are being examined by veterinarians as one of the final steps before these endangered birds are released to the wild. 

The juvenile cranes are currently at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center near New Orleans, which operates a breeding program that has helped release 43 of the birds. Each of the young birds was weighed, measured, and given a complete physical including examinations of eyes, nose and ears, veterinarians listened to their hearts, lungs and air sacs, and checked their overall condition. Each bird was also given a microchip and temporary bands were attached to their legs for future identification. 

After each colt was checked by Audubon Nature Institute veterinarians, they were released into a large holding area for introduction to the others. Soon this group of colts will travel to southwest Louisiana where they will be taken to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish. They will be taken to a temporary release pen where they will stay for a short time before being released into the wild. 

Whooping cranes have historically lived in Louisiana, either as permanent residents or temporary overwintering. Loss of habitat and unregulated hunting led to them disappearing from the state for more than 60 years until conservation partners including Audubon Nature Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries teamed up to introduce new birds to the state. 

“Each bird is extremely valuable to the wild population and the survival of this endangered species,” said Richard Dunn, Assistant Curator at the Audubon Nature Institute Species Survival Center. “Returning birds to the wild is critical and the collaborative effort of our partners help make it a reality.” 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), and Audubon Nature Institute have been longtime leaders in whooping crane conservation and are continuing to expand their partnership with the goal of developing a self-sustaining Louisiana whooping crane population. This partnership is an example of the importance of collaboration between federal and state agencies and non-profit organizations, leveraging the strengths of all to achieve measurable conservation results and make a significant, historic impact on the future of this species. Through this partnership and with the support of USFWS, Chevron, and other generous supporters, Audubon Nature Institute is committed to the long-term growth and stability of the whooping crane population to save the species from extinction. 

As part of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team, Audubon Nature Institute works collaboratively with the USFWS, International Recovery Team, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Whooping Crane Species Survival Plan, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, International Crane Foundation, White Oak Conservation Foundation, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Dallas Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, Calgary Zoo, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to reintroduce whooping cranes to achieve a self-sustaining population of wild whooping cranes through reintroduction programs. 
Anyone encountering a whooping crane in Louisiana is advised to observe the bird from a distance and to report the sighting to LDWF