Rare whooping cranes sighted in Rice, LeSueur countiesWhooping cranes, one of America’s most endangered birds, have recently been sighted in Rice and Le Sueur counties in south central Minnesota.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
Whooping cranes, one of America’s most endangered birds, have recently been sighted in Rice and Le Sueur counties in south central Minnesota.
“These are exciting reports since so few whooping cranes exist in the wild,” according to Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, regional nongame wildlife specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “However, it is vital to give the birds the respect and distance they need.”
Gelvin-Innvaer said that the whooping crane is a critically imperiled North American species with fewer than 250 birds in a single wild population. In 1940, there were only 16 whooping cranes left in the world. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) started a new flock at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin and trained them to migrate along their normal route between Wisconsin and coastal Florida. The pair recently sighted could be part of that flock.
“When you’re lucky enough to spot a whooping crane, please do not approach it,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. The WCEP suggests that anyone viewing a whooping crane not approach within 600 feet, even in a vehicle. If not in a vehicle, stay concealed and do not speak loudly enough so that birds can hear you. “The whooping cranes’ natural fear of humans is an important survival mechanism. One of the greatest perils that whooping cranes face is desensitizing them to human presence,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. “Each exposure puts them at a greater risk from vehicle collisions, predation and illegal shooting.”
Hunters also are asked to be especially watchful this fall, so that they do not mistake a whooping crane for other migratory waterfowl.
To help track whooping cranes, the WCEP asks those who observe them to submit their report via: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm