Whooping crane nest count reaches new record

Johnathan Silver By Johnathan Silver

June 13, 2014 at 1:13 a.m.
Updated June 14, 2014 at 1:14 a.m.

The whooping crane population is growing numerically and geographically, a wildlife expert says.

A record 82 whooping crane nests were counted in a survey in and around the Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada. An increase from 74 last year shows a continued growth in the endangered bird's population and proves to be a sign of success on the part of conservationists in Canada and the U.S., said Wade Harrell, whooping crane recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"The coordination between the two countries has been key historically," Harrell said.

For the cranes, Canada is home for part of the year for breeding, but they winter at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Austwell.

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is the last wild population of whooping cranes. The wildlife population has transformed from a low-teens count 60 years ago to more than 300 for the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population.

The bird has become the flagship species for conservation legislation in the U.S., and people find the species fascinating and hold it in a high regard, Harrell said.

"It's a success story for how conservation over a long period moved it from the brink of extinction to a species that has a flourishing population," he said.

Harrell gives credit to his predecessors and partners in this effort in Canada.

"It's thrilling to think we can go out there and make a positive impact with a wildlife species that we coexist with," he said.



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