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Mon, Feb 05, 2007

The Tornado Spared One: Endangered Juvenile Whooping Crane Found Alive in FL

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) has informed ANN that one of the juvenile cranes presumed lost in the storms that hit central Florida on Feb. 1 and 2 has been found.

Project biologists with the International Crane Foundation picked up the radio signal of crane 15-06 on Saturday afternoon near the pensite at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge where the other birds perished in the storm. They lost the signal briefly before picking it up again on Sunday, tracking the young bird to an area in Citrus County, some miles away from the pensite. The juvenile crane was observed from the air in good remote habitat with two sandhill cranes. Number 15-06 is in the same area with three whooping cranes from the Class of 2005.

During the last leg of the ultralight-led migration last fall, crane 15-06 dropped out, but was found nearby two days later and brought to the pensite with his flockmates.

“Finding 15-06 alive represents a ray of light during an otherwise dark time for whooping crane recovery,” said John Christian, co-chair of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

“While we are still recovering from the initial shock of the loss of so many other young birds, this latest development demonstrates the resilience of this particular crane, and our partnership will bounce back as well.”

Seventeen juvenile whooping cranes died as a result of the storms that swept through central Florida during the evening and early morning of Feb. 1 and 2.

WCEP is still determining the cause of death of the 17 whooping cranes, which were part of the ultralight-led “Class of 2006” and arrived at the Chassahowitzka NWR in mid January.

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership founding members are the International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration Inc., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and National Wildlife Health Center, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team.

FMI: www.bringbackthecranes.org

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