After weeks of waiting and hoping for the remaining D.A.R. Whooping Cranes to migrate, finally yesterday some good news. The good news does not come without a price I’m afraid, last week ended with some very sad news. Four of the 2013 D.A.R. Whooping Cranes have died. With all the hard work and dedication and effort from the members of the International Crane Foundation, www.savingcranes.org, in the end tragic news of the deaths was unavoidable.
I have been documenting the 2013 D.A.R. Whooping Cranes for a project titled “Hatch to Release”. I have become attached to the Whoopers just as many members of ICF have. I have spent one day each week visiting the cranes and documenting there growth. It has been an honor to do so and such an important story to tell. Endangered species reintroduction is unfortunantly not always going to work as planned, there are many variables to over come and this year was no different.
Tuesday December 11, 2013 I joined a team from ICF at Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The goal was to find the 4 remaining Whooping Cranes capture them, check on their health and ship them south. Something that has never happened before. With winter freezing over the marsh and a dwindling food supply it was a drastic measure to keep from loosing the remaining cranes.
Once on site tracking began by picking up a strong signals for all four of the whoopers. Shortly after the initial tracking we detected that they were moving south and they kept on moving not just to the south end of the marsh but on migration. Great news. Really the best outcome possible. After an hour a beacon was detected that one of the cranes had returned but only one. The other three were still on there way and were detected in norther Illinois at this point.
The capture of the returned crane was made by Kim Boardman with the help of Anne Lacy both of ICF. It was a truly heroric effort as temperatures were in the single digits with below zero wind chill. They tracked the crane in a corn field and made the capture. Dr. Barry Hartup of ICF completed the check up determining that all was well and today the final member of the 2013 D.A.R. Whooping Cranes is being transported south.
It really was a fantastic ending to a very tragic week.