New Orleans,
21
November
2018
|
06:25 PM
America/Chicago

Conservation Partnership Continues in Louisiana with the Release of Five Endangered Whooping Cranes into the Wild

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Audubon Nature Institute and Chevron Partner to Save Whooping Cranes from Extinction

A group of 5 juvenile whooping cranes were released into the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier as part of an ongoing effort to protect the species from extinction. The juvenile cranes after spending a few weeks getting used to their new environment will join over 70 whooping cranes that are part of a population being monitored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).

The 5 chicks being released were hatched and reared at Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans. This is the second year Audubon has released cranes in the Louisiana wild, before that cranes were transported and released into a northern flock.

Supported by generous donors like Chevron, LDWF and Audubon have been longtime leaders in whooping crane conservation and are continuing to expand their partnership with the goal of developing a self-sustaining population of whooping cranes in Louisiana. This partnership is an example of the importance of collaboration between state agencies and non-profit organizations, leveraging the strengths of both to achieve measurable conservation results and make a significant, historic impact on the future of this species. With the support of Chevron, LDWF and Audubon are committed to the long-term growth and stability of the whooping crane population to save the species from extinction.

“This was another remarkable year for us in rearing whooping cranes. In addition to rearing these birds, we prepared new enclosures for the arrival of 30 more adult whooping cranes to join our breeding program,” said Richard Dunn, Assistant Curator at the Species Survival Center.

The 5 cranes that were released join 7 juvenile whooping cranes from the International Crane Foundation, who were released in Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. The addition of these 12 cranes increases the flock to over 70 whooping cranes living in the wild in Louisiana. Support of partners including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, International Crane Foundation, Calgary Zoo, and generous donors including Chevron have allowed LDWF and Audubon to expand efforts in Louisiana.

The Louisiana wild flock was developed in 2011 when 10 whooping cranes from the U. S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Facility in Maryland were released to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) in Vermilion Parish to develop the non-migratory flock. This marked a significant conservation milestone with the first wild whooping cranes in Louisiana since 1950. In WLWCA in 2016, the first viable chick hatched in the wild in Louisiana since 1939—a significant sign of recovery for the species.

“At Chevron, we recognize the importance of protecting ecological diversity – the rich variety of wildlife on Earth, its ecosystems and species, and the ecological processes that support them,” said Leah Brown, Public Affairs Manager for Chevron's Gulf of Mexico Business Unit.

“We’re proud to continue our long-standing collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and  Audubon Nature Institute on whooping crane restoration and repopulation. Through awareness programs, educational efforts and volunteerism, we’re working to ensure the whooping crane is thriving for generations to come," said Brown.

The Louisiana flock was developed in 2011 when 10 whooping cranes from the U. S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Facility in Maryland were released to the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) in Vermilion Parish to develop the non-migratory flock. This marked a significant conservation milestone with the first wild whooping cranes in Louisiana since 1950. In WLWCA in 2016, the first viable chick hatched in the wild in Louisiana since 1939—a significant sign of recovery for the species.

“With the addition of the 12 cranes along with the five wild hatched chicks, our whooping crane project enjoyed a banner year in 2018,’’ said Jack Montoucet, LDWF Secretary.

“So many hard-working folks deserve credit for the success as we work to bring back this majestic species that once was abundant in Louisiana. Chevron and our other corporate partners, Audubon and our LDWF biologists, who constantly watch over these birds, are key cogs in this process,” said Montoucet.

In early 2017, Audubon was asked to significantly increase the number of crane chicks raised at the rearing facility to supplement the migratory populations and the non-migratory whooping crane population in Louisiana. As one of only three whooping crane breeding facilities in the US, support of project partners is vital to the long-term success of the whooping crane population in Louisiana.

Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance and to report the sighting to LDWF (http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/webform/whooping-crane-reporting-form). Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds with a red head and black facial markings along. Birds measure a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet that makes them very distinctive. In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips, a fully extended neck, and legs which extend well beyond the tail.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge. Citizen Observer, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.

Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute. 

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive email alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup