Return of Whooping Cranes to Louisiana - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Return of Whooping Cranes to Louisiana

 WASHINGTON, D.C. (USFS) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has cleared the way

for the reintroduction of whooping cranes in Louisiana a half century

after these endangered birds were last seen in the state, Secretary of the

Interior Ken Salazar announced today.

 

The Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a

regulation designating a potential Louisiana's population as a

non-essential, experimental population under the Endangered Species Act.

This designation would allow the Service to effectively manage a

reintroduced population. The reintroduction of whooping cranes to

Louisiana could begin later this month.

 

"The whooping crane is an iconic species that should be returned and

restored to health along the Gulf Coast," Salazar said. "In partnership

with the State of Louisiana, and thanks to the remarkable work of our

scientists and experts, we believe we are ready to bring whoopers back.

The reintroduction of these remarkable birds will be a milestone moment

for the Gulf Coast and in our continuing commitment to the protection and

restoration of America's Great Outdoors."

 

The last record of a whooping crane in Louisiana dates back to 1950, when

the last surviving whooping crane was removed from Vermilion Parish

property that is now part of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and

Fisheries' White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area.

 

In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S.

Geological Survey, and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife

Research Unit, LDWF plans to release the first group of non-migratory

whooping cranes at the conservation area in early 2011.  

 

The reintroduction of the whooping crane is a model of the kind of

partnership in conservation called by President Obama when he unveiled his

America's Great Outdoors Initiative to create a new conservation ethic for

the 21st century and reconnect Americans to the great outdoors, Salazar

said.  

 

"Working with states and local communities to achieve our conservation

goals is at the heart of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative," Salazar

said.

 

"We strongly support the State of Louisiana in this historic effort for

the ultimate recovery of the magnificent whooping crane," said Cindy

Dohner, the Service's Southeast Regional Director. "We are proud to be

partners with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary

Robert Barham, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey,

and the International Crane Foundation in this great effort."

 

The proposed designation of a non-migratory flock of whooping cranes for

reintroduction to Louisiana was first published in the Federal Register on

August 19, 2010. Public comments were received and two public hearings

(Gueydan and Baton Rouge) were held to allow public comment. Comments were

accepted through October 18, 2010 and were generally found to be

supportive of the overall reintroduction effort.

 

The Service announced today in the Federal Register the final designation

of Louisiana's non-essential, experimental population (NEP) of the

endangered whooping crane. The non-migratory flock coming to Louisiana

will carry that designation under the provisions of the Endangered Species

Act. This designation and its implementing regulation are developed to be

more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area.

 

"LDWF has proven through implementing recovery efforts for species like

the American alligator and the brown pelican that the expertise and

willingness to implement a long-term restoration plan for high priority

trust resources are assets our biologists bring to projects," Barham said.

 

 

Whooping cranes are the most endangered of all of the world's crane

species, first added to the list of endangered species on March 11, 1967.

 

Louisiana's reintroduction is part of a larger ongoing recovery effort led

by the Service and its partners for this highly imperiled species, which

was on the verge of extinction in the 1940s and even today has only about

400 individuals in the wild.

 

"The return of whooping cranes to their home in Louisiana, after an

absence of more than a half-century, salutes the values of a state that

shelters some of the largest and most important wetlands on the

continent," said George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane

Foundation (ICF).

 

 

The only self-sustaining wild population of whooping cranes migrates

between Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada

and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Like those in the eastern

migratory population, it remains vulnerable to extinction from continued

loss of habitat or natural or man-made catastrophes. Multiple efforts are

underway to reduce this risk and bring this magnificent bird further along

its path to recovery. This includes increasing populations in the wild,

ongoing efforts to establish a migratory population in the eastern United

States, and establishing a resident population in Louisiana.

 

For more information on whooping cranes and the re-introduction of

whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit the LDWF's website at

www.wlf.la.gov or the Service's website at http://www.fws.gov/southeast

and the International Crane Foundation at: http://www.savingcranes.org/

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