REWARD INCREASED TO $10,000

Media Contact: Heather Ray 920-573-0905

Indiana Conservation Officers have partnered with Indiana Turn in a Poacher, Friends of Goose Pond, the International Crane Foundation and Operation Migration to offer a substantial reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for killing female Whooping Crane number 4-11 in Greene County, Indiana in early January.

On January 3, 2017 an International Crane Foundation volunteer found the crane near Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area. Her remains have been sent to the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon for further testing.

In an effort to apprehend those responsible for the killing of the Whooping Crane, several conservation organizations have come together to offer a sizable reward.

“Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area is a winter home for up to 25% of the entire eastern Whooping Crane population,” said Dane Strahle, Friends of Goose Pond President. We strongly support the efforts to find the person(s) responsible for this killing.”

Friends of Goose Pond’s board members are offering a $2,500 reward. The International Crane Foundation has committed to offer a $1,000 toward the reward. Indiana Turn in a Poacher is adding an additional $500.

“Poaching is referred to as theft of our precious natural resources,” said Joe Cales, Turn in a Poacher President. “As citizens of Indiana, we do not tolerate the unlawful taking of our fish, wildlife or natural resources, and we stand firmly against those who do.”

An additional $2,500 is being offered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for information leading to conviction.

And yesterday, Operation Migration’s Joe Duff announced they will contribute $3,500 to bring the overall total to $10,000.

“Reintroducing an endangered species takes money, hard work, luck and expertise. I was privileged to fly alongside #4-11 and to help teach her to migrate. She survived on her own and made five trips south in the fall and back north in the spring. She found a mate and even produced a chick. Then to have someone waste all that time, effort and such a beautiful bird for nothing more that the pleasure of the kill is a selfish, wasteful tragedy”, said Duff.

Female Whooping crane number 4-11. Photographed in early 2016 by Bob Herndon.

This breeding female Whooping Crane killed in Greene County was part of an effort by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership to establish an eastern migratory flock which travels between Wisconsin and the southeast U.S. This migration path crosses through Indiana, with a number of Whooping Cranes often stopping at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area.

Indiana Conservation Officers are collaborating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate this crime.

“Conservation Law Enforcement is our mission”, said Danny L. East, Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Director. “With the assistance of our conservation partners and our citizens, we remain confident that we will bring closure to this case.”

If you have information about this case please contact the Indiana Conservation Officer Dispatch at 812-837-9536.

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Whooping Crane #12-02

Male Whooping crane 12-02 was the mate of 4-11, the female crane found shot two weeks ago in Indiana. This 14 year old male was found dead on their summer territory in June of last year.

This left number 4-11 to raise their chick on her own, which she did until mid-July when it was predated.

While 12-02 will be missed as a valuable member of the eastern population, he will go on to educate visitors at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.

Photo L to R ..Ranger Daphne Moland, Supv. Ranger Teresa Adams, WC #12-02, and Shane Smith. And that is our wonderful Volunteer Carol Thompson hard at work at the front desk!

We welcome our newest edition to the Wheeler Visitor Center Staff…Whooping Crane #12-02. Shane Smith of Artistic Compositions Taxidermy, Bridgeport, AL performed somewhat of a miracle and the results are… well…..miraculous! Come visit and see for yourself.

To learn more about #12-02 visit Journey North.

Endangered Species Act Targeted?

From the Associated Press: In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government’s most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities.

“Any species that gets in the way of a congressional initiative or some kind of development will be clearly at risk,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former Fish and Wildlife Service director under President Bill Clinton. “The political lineup is as unfavorable to the Endangered Species Act as I can remember.”

CLICK to read full article

What’s Killing the World’s Shorebirds?

“Shorebird populations have shrunk, on average, by an estimated 70% across North America since 1973, and the species that breed in the Arctic are among the hardest hit.

Although the trend is clear, the underlying causes are not. That’s because shorebirds travel thousands of kilometres a year, and encounter so many threats along the way that it is hard to decipher which are the most damaging. Evidence suggests that rapidly changing climate conditions in the Arctic are taking a toll, but that is just one of many offenders. Other culprits include coastal development, hunting in the Caribbean and agricultural shifts in North America. The challenge is to identify the most serious problems and then develop plans to help shorebirds to bounce back.”

CLICK to read full story

New Year’s Resolutions… Part 2

Part 1

New Year’s Day broke clear and bright… and with no headache hangover, which was surprising considering all the head banging in 2016. “All aboard!” the operator called out as I fell out of bed rubbing the sleep from my eyes and climbed back aboard the emotional roller-coaster that defines any wildlife reintroduction. The operator… a precocious, spoiled, defiant ADHD child on Benzedrine, gave me the “Thumbs Up” with a finger other than his thumb and off we mechanically surfed into the New Year’s “great beyond” while I recited my most important New Year’s resolution and mantra for 2017, “Hang On For Dear Life.”

The trip to the blind was filled with anticipation as the tracking antenna strained for the beeps of 3-14 and 30-16.  And as I broke out of the woods into the marsh, there they were…. GONE! Not a sound to be heard. The “Usual Suspects,” aka Mack, 8-14 and Henry and Peanut, were lurking about but no “Royal Family.” The all too familiar ache of disappointment began its assault as I ran back to the van and launched into a Refuge wide search that would make an old man sweeping the beach with a metal detector squeal with envy. But no luck… as the fates wished me a sincere and much appreciated “Happy New Year.”

A long, frustrating week of searching followed until 3:35 Saturday morning, when I saw Heather’s email announcing a satellite hit on 3-14 up in Georgia. Three cups of coffee, a trip to the bathroom and a call to Colleen, who had not had a “Whooper Fix” since tracking some of the parent reared chicks south several weeks ago, followed. And after the usual morning bird checks, it was off to pick up the “navigator,” then continue north at “Warp Speed” to the all-important set of GPS coordinates. 

In “Whooper World,” we paint by numbers. Fortunately, the gas pedal of our OM tracking van was long ago modified, complements of Volkswagen, with a pressure resistant hydraulic ram, which activates automatically at such times when the driver becomes impaired by “anticipation intoxication,” thus preventing his foot from pushing the pedal through the damn floor. Patent Pending. The sleepy countryside passed by in a blur until the “navigator” announced “We’re close” at which time our ears grew to four times their normal size and we could suddenly hear every pin that dropped within a radius of 5 miles. Fortunately, nobody set off a firecracker or our favorite piece of dialog would have become, “What did you say”?

Then, after another ten minutes or so, the soothing tonic of familiar beeps filled the van. Success!  Well… almost. Now for a visual. Sure. The beeps of 3-14 and 30-16 were there, but what about “Big Daddy” 4-12? We knew his transmitter was dead, but was he? We slowed to allow our ears to ask the beeps for directions and soon we had the birds triangulated somewhere within the confines of a large series of contiguous agricultural fields. Now… the moment of truth, as we switched our senses from sound to vision and scanned the horizon for the three white spots. As my pacemaker shifted into “high flow rate,” we transitioned to “stealth mode” and crept timidly up a dirt trail to the top of a hill. There, we were treated to a panoramic view that would have put a smile on even God’s face.

And that’s when the entire local high school marching band suddenly appeared, playing “Hail to the Chief” while the Mormon Tabernacle Choir began a deafening chorus of “Old Lang Zine.” Then the Air Force Thunderbirds made a low pass over us in an aerial salute while all the countryside colors began pulsing with near-blinding flashes of neon.

Whooping cranes 3-14, 4-12 & 30-16. Photo captured by Colleen Chase using her phone and looking through binoculars.

There they were…. all three of them, playing happily down the bottom of the hill in a shallow pond, seemingly happy as clams at high tide. They were completely oblivious to our presence and to the fact that they had been listed as “missing” or to the fact they had been driving us absolutely “bonkers”! I suddenly felt like giving them the Finger!!!!

Anyway… that, my friends, is how you spell “RELIEF”! It was “High Fives” all around (or “High Fours” in my case). Yes, we were disappointed our “Royal Family” had left the Refuge, but oh so happy to see them alive and well. Especially 4-12. And besides, they’re only a short morning’s flight away and could return at any time.

“All aboard”! and a belated “Happy New Year” everybody!

Nobody Likes January

Christmas is over and all the guests have gone home but the driveway still needs shoveling a couple of times a week. We call January our off time of year but its really just the month when  you schedule all the stuff you don’t have time for during the rest of the season. 

Our Ontario office is on the ground floor. Or, more accurately, our office is built on the ground. There is no basement where you would normally find pipes, drains and plumbing clean outs. Instead all that stuff in our office is buried under 6 inches of concrete. 
 
It has been very cold here and it seems one of those pipes is not buried the requisite 4 feed down. So it froze, and backed up and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s the pipe from the toilet. Our office now smells like the port-a-potty at camp that Brooke writes so eloquently about.  
 
As luck has it, the smell started to waft out on the very day I had scheduled a road trip to the North American Crane Workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee with a stop in Washington DC for a meeting. 
 
One of our trucks is a crew cab with four doors and a full length box. It is powered by a Cummins diesel which gets good mileage when not pulling a forty-foot trailer and, as with most diesels, miles don’t mean much. At a 100,000 kms, it’s nicely broken in. 
 
It’s a big truck that gets admiring glances from all of those pick-up types most everywhere in the U.S. but in DC it’s as welcome as a skunk at a garden party. 
 
Also there are no open, surface lots anywhere near Capital Hill. Millions of car disappear below high rise office towers into basements, the likes of which they could use back home right now. 
 
There are metered spots on the street but it takes a pocket full of change for an hour and I knew I’d be longer than that. Plus, every time I spotted one, a little Smart Car zipped into it with a look of disdain like I was driving a Hummer to a Birding Festival. So I navigated the truck into an underground lot and slipped just under the overhead clearance sign. Than I pleaded, cajoled and charmed the nice attendant into letting me park my combine in the one over sized spot he had. As I left, I tried to pay him and he said “pay when you pick up, no credit card, cash only.”
 
After an enjoyable meeting with our friends at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, I headed for an ATM to get the requisite cash. My personal funds are handled by a large National back in Canada, which I have uses in Mexico even. They have Touch Technology and all the other latest innovations, but they also have a bunch of computers that scan transactions for anomalies. Not only did my truck stick out in DC but so did my debit card, at least to that computer. In fact, I tried several ATM’s, but no joy. 
 
No techno-slouch myself, I Googled branches of my bank near me and up popped one six blocks away. I walked over only to find it was it was their DC investment office and they didn’t deal with lowly ATM card holders, especially if they drove big trucks. As a last resort I called the useless number on the back of the card, waded through their half hour, recorded routing system and was finally connected to a pleasant clerk. 
 
I travel a lot so, in our household, my wife does most of the banking. The first ID confirmation question the clerk asked was, “what is you monthly mortgage payment.” Hmm, next question please. After six such dead ends I felt like a complete moron and hung up. My wife kindly texted me the correct answers to a few questions and I started the half hour process again.
 
Once they were confident they were speaking to the real me???? they corrected the problem in ten seconds. Unusual behavior, said the computer. Don’t you think there would be a backup system in place before they leave a long term customer stranded? I speak from experience because its happened several times before, even in Wisconsin where I spend half my life. 
 
Six blocks back to the truck to pay the now triple parking fee and I left just in time to hit DC traffic.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I love Washington but if you visit, drive your smallest car and carry some cash.

Indiana Whooping Crane Shootings

Five Whooping Cranes in the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) have been victims of shootings in Indiana. In late 2009, the first female crane to successfully hatch and raise a wild chick in the U.S. in more than a century was killed in the first shooting. Crane 17-02 was 7 years old when she was shot. She, along with her mate 11-02, became the first pair in the EMP to successfully raise a crane chick to fledge. Their chick is W1-06 (the ‘W’ indicates Wild). She is now 10 years old and is paired with male #1-10. The two have a summer territory at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

On December 30, 2011, male Whooping Crane #6-05 was found shot to death in Jackson County, Indiana. His carcass was found by a photographer near the Muscatatuck River basin about 40 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. This case remains open with a reward of $7500 being offered for information leading to the arrest of the individual responsible. 

In January 2012 male Whooping crane 27-08 became the third confirmed shooting death of a Whooping Crane in Indiana. John Burke and Jason McCarter of Knox County pleaded guilty and were sentenced on November 21, 2012. Their sentence included three years probation and a donation of $5000 to the International Crane Foundation.

In February 2014, the remains of female Whooping Crane 35-09 were found partially buried in Greene County, Indiana by conservation officers. 

“It was obvious somebody shot it,” Officer Mike Gregg said at that time. “We believe there were hunters in the area and that once they shot it they buried it, realizing they had made a mistake.” 

Sadly, we now have gunshot victim number five in the Hoosier State. Female Whooping Crane #4-11 was found shot in Greene County over the first weekend of 2017. This valuable female had reached breeding age and hatched her first chick last summer. 

Of these five cases, three occurred as people were ringing in a New Year. Is it customary for people in Indiana to take their firearms out for the New Year’s holiday and start shooting? Were the guns received as Christmas gifts that just had to be tested on the first large, white target spotted? 

Initial reports are that #4-11 was shot with a high powered rifle. Her remains were sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s forensic’s lab in Oregon for confirmation as part of the investigation

We at Operation Migration respect hunting and responsible hunters. We believe that vandals are behind most Whooping Crane shootings – vandals that must be brought to justice. If you have any information that might help authorities apprehend the shooter of #4-11, please call 317-346-7017.

Festival of the Cranes – This weekend!

Make plans to attend the Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge this weekend!

Activities get underway at 6:30 Saturday morning and continue throughout the day with something taking place for all ages. 

Sunday’s events begin at 8:00 and feature speakers, workshops and children’s activities.

Check the schedule for a full festival line-up!

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Eve has always been a time of great stress and anxiety. The reason?  All those New Year’s Resolutions. If you really want to improve your life, you’ve got to have a plan. “Plan your Dive, Dive your Plan.” Without them, it’s just going to be one more year of being stuck with your same old boring self. And what are resolutions if not a list of little irritating mini plans. Let’s see. Got to lose those 10 pounds so you can go back to Goodwill and buy back those never worn, undersized clothes you donated last February after giving up on last year’s diet.  Stop watching the news… too depressing, and you can’t do anything about it anyway. Smile and say “Hello” to at least one stranger each day, preferably the one you see in the bathroom mirror each morning. And stop being resentful when the people you work with don’t agree with you and accept the fact they will always be just plain wrong. It’s a jungle out there, so stop trying to suppress your roar!

This year, I added yet another last minute resolution to my list… putting my eyes on whoopers #4-12, 3-14 and 30-16. And here’s why. The last day of 2016 began as usual… walking out to the blind to check the marsh for birds. This journey is always done to the accompaniment of beeps as the tracking receiver hanging from my shoulder scans through the list of bird frequencies. In “Whooper World” we see with our ears as well as our eyes. And more often than not, seeing what you can’t see is important. Very Zen. So far, the beeps of Henry (5-12), Peanut (4-14), Mack (4-13) and 8-14 were on my “December of 2016 Greatest Hits” Album. Yearling female #2-15 was also on the Charts but dropped off after two days when she departed the area due to territorial issues with Mack and 8-14. She was heard saying “Why can’t we just all get along?” as she winged her way north over the horizon.

Meanwhile, the transmitter beeps of 3-14 and Parent Reared crane #30-16 had been resting quietly in the receiver… patiently awaiting their cue. They knew, as did we, the real virtue of patience. Especially in “Whooper World.” The patriarch of their little “family” is #4-12 and his beeps were quiet for a different reason. His transmitter battery was dead. And as every whooper knows, when your battery is dead, it’s dead for a long time. Now, as many of you may remember, of the 12 parent reared chicks we released with older whoopers in Wisconsin this fall, chick #30-16 was the only one to actually be “adopted.”  Joe monitored them daily from release until they left on migration. So you can imagine my excitement when the receiver began singing out their beeps, announcing their arrival.

My walking feet became running feet and soon the blind shutters were thrown open revealing the familiar panorama of morning marsh… and the disappointing absence of the three aforementioned cranes. Mack and 8-14 were in their usual morning spots, beaking the soft marsh mud for each and every delightful morsel hidden within. Henry and Peanut were next door in the adjoining marsh doing their usual Henry and Peanut things. But NO “Royal Family”! Frantic fine-tuning of the receiver placed them in Goose Creek, about a mile or so away. Strange. Based on past year’s history, I would have expected 4-12 to have done his familiar “Attila the Hun” routine and taken over the pen area… kicking out Mack and 8-14. I had to remember, however, that he and 3-14 were only here for the first part of last winter, spending the second part up in Georgia before returning to White River Marsh in spring.

A frenzied hike, then drive, then another hike transported me on the other side of Goose Creek battling the mud and vegetation, trying to get a visual. The beeps from 3-14 and 30-16 were way up the creek but so loud I had to turn the receiver almost off to avoid waking up the neighbors two miles away. Or was it the sound of my pounding heart making all the racket? No matter. The excitement was almost more physically exhausting than the hike and I began to worry that I wouldn’t have any energy left for making my New Year’s Resolutions. Then there was the tormenting doubt that 4-12 might not be there. I mean, with no transmitter beeps or visual… and the fact he didn’t kick Mack and 8-14 out and take over the pen, how could I be sure? And if he wasn’t there, he was surely dead! Waaaaaaay too much stress!

However, it soon became clear that I was not going to make it far enough up the creek to see them. Just too inaccessible. I frantically reached into my pocket for my Swiss Army knife and my fingers fumbled futilely for the “drone” blade… that wasn’t there. “The right tool for the right job” as they say. Damn! It was then I heard the voice. “Patience, Grasshopper.”

So, after a few hours I made my way back to the tracking van at Wakulla Beach… and waited. It was then I began my list of six hundred and eighty seven and one half New Year’s resolutions, the first ten of which were, “I WILL get a visual.” Little did I know it was going to take me another week to scratch them off my list.

                                …to be continued.

By the Numbers

Over the last fifteen years, we released 186 Whooping cranes into the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP). We have led them on 313 flights between stopover sites and conditioned them to follow our aircraft on 1287 mornings. We have logged thousands of hour of airtime and covered 15,559.75 miles between Wisconsin and Florida.

All of those statistics is my excuse for only remembering the highlights. There are just too many birds and too many hours to remember them all. There were times in the early years when I recognized each crane by its ever-changing patterns of fawn over white, but now there are too many to recall.

Just as I kept detailed records of distances and duration’s, I kept a journal summarizing each flight. When I review the numbers, I am staggered by the effort and when I read the journal, I am humbled by the experience. There are days that stand out like the times we tried to cross the Cumberland Ridge in Tennessee when we had pilots, birds and ground crew spread out over half the State. And there are birds I remember like number 2-15. That bird reminds me of a thick-headed dog. You can’t blame it for being dumb and how can you not love a Whooping crane.

If you regularly read the Field Journal, you may remember the 2-15 was the ditzy female with the short attention span and a propensity for disrupting the other birds in their efforts to follow our aircraft. On just about every flight, she would charge ahead of the trike or bounce from one wingtip to the other, breaking up the order with each move. She would lead the birds off in another direction or just generally play havoc with our well-organized plans.

Her personality seem most irritating to number 1-15 who was the dominate female in the flock. It reminded me of the halls of high school with the tough guy and the class clown both vying for the attention of their peers. Number 1-15 had the authority, which nobody questioned, but 2-15, could make them all laugh. 

There a hundred factors, from rough air to mood swings that can make the birds break from the aircraft wing and turn back to the pen. Sometimes they do it with purpose like a fighter jet peeling off the formation for an attack. Other times they lack commitment. On one such occasion, number 2-15 led them away but instead of turning back, they flew parallel to the aircraft a hundred yards to the left. Her flock of followers seemed torn between their allegiance to her or to the aircraft. In a test of will, you can stay the course and occasionally they will come back. But if you turn to them, that’s all the confirmation they need and off they go in the direction of the pen. In those few seconds, as 2-15 and I stood our ground, number 1-15 left my wing and pushed her way into the lead of the flock. Once securely in charge, she led them back to the aircraft and we finally turned on course after an hour of trying.

All of this is speculation of course. We have no idea what really happened but it sure looked like a turning point in the dominance structure of the flock.

Because of 2-15’s disruptive behavior, she spend a few legs of the migration in a crate riding in the back of an RV. And as you may recall, we never did get to finish that last flight into St Marks. With her short attention span and broken knowledge of the migration, I was sure she would not make it back to St. Marks this year, but there she was Christmas Eve when Brooke detected her signal near the pensite.

So here we are, all puffed up in our costumes, thinking we are the dominant members of the flock; except that ditsy female who can make them all laugh just showed us up again. It hard not to admire her, scatter brains and all.

Festival of the Cranes Next Weekend!

Make plans to attend the upcoming Festival of the Cranes at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge on January 14 & 15th.

Activities get underway at 6:30 Saturday morning and continue throughout the day with something taking place for all ages. 

Sunday’s events begin at 8:00 and feature speakers, workshops and children’s activities.

Check the schedule for a full festival line-up!

Climate Change…

…Affecting Bird Migration.

Anyone even remotely interested in birds is aware of the issue involving bird collisions with buildings in large cities… especially cities situated on large bodies of water such as Toronto and Chicago. 

The feathered collision victims are gathered by volunteers and kept in freezers until they are transferred to – in the case of Toronto – the Royal Ontario Museum, and Chicago – the Chicago Field Museum.

Using information collected by volunteers that gather these birds, researchers are able to piece together timing of migration by specific species and have determined that flocks of migrating birds are passing through Chicago about a week earlier than they used to. 

CLICK to read the full story.

 

#Nationalbirdday

Whooping crane 4-13 says happy #nationalbirdday

National Bird Day is on January 5 each year, as it’s scheduled to coincide with the end of the annual Christmas Bird Count. The Christmas Bird Count has been going on for decades. It lasts three weeks and is the longest running citizen science survey in the world that helps to monitor the health of our nation’s birds.

EMP Monthly Update

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. In the last month most Whooping Cranes have begun migration or reached their wintering areas. A huge thank-you to the staff of Operation Migration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation, and all of the volunteers who help us keep track of the cranes throughout the year. We appreciate your contribution to the recovery of the whooping crane eastern migratory population.

Population Estimate

The current maximum population size is 104 (48 F, 54 M, 2 U). As of 1 January, at least 35 Whooping Cranes have been confirmed in Indiana, 3 in Illinois, 6 in Kentucky, 7 in Tennessee, 28 in Alabama, 5 in Florida, 4 in Georgia, and 1 in Louisiana. The remaining birds’ locations have not been reported during December. See map below.

2015 Wild Chicks

W10_15 and 24_13 spent December in Greene County, Indiana with a large group of Whooping Cranes.

W18_15 and male 16-04 were reported in Knox Co, IN during December.

Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) spent all of December at Wheeler NWR in Alabama.

20_15 (M) spent the beginning of December in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, then moved back to Saint Martin Parish, where he wintered last year.

DAR 2015 Cohort

62_15 (M) was found dead on 18 December in Randolph Co, IL (see below). Around the same time, 61_15 (F) and 67_15 (F) went south into southwestern Missouri and western Tennessee, before returning to Randolph Co, IL by 23 December. During this time, 63_15 (M) stayed by himself in Randolph Co. By the end of the month, the three remaining cranes from this group were together again on their wintering grounds.

65_15 (F) and 27_14 (F) spent most of December at Wheeler NWR, Alabama.

66_15 (F) and 68_15 (F) have been reported in Rhea or Meigs Co, TN throughout December but are not together.

UL 2015 Cohort

2_15 (F) left on migration between 6 and 11 December and went to Wakulla Co, FL. She then moved back north to Thomas Co, GA by the end of the month.

6_15 (F) spent early December in Greene County, IN associating with 38-09. The two then moved to Wheeler NWR in Morgan Co, AL by the end of December.

8_15 (F) left on migration on 8 December and by the end of the month was in Sumter Co, AL.

10_15 (F), and 11_15 (M) spent most of December at Wheeler NWR, AL. 

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) left Wisconsin on 8 December likely migrating with Sandhill Cranes. By 11 December they made it to Dyer Co, TN, where they spent the rest of the month.

30_16 (M) left on migration with 4_12 and 3_14 on 8 December and made it to Floyd Co, GA by 11 December.

31_16 (M) and 38_16 (M) left on migration on 8 December and spent the rest of the month in Crittenden Co, KY.

33_16 (F) migrated to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN, and by the end of December was in Citrus Co, FL.

71_16 (F) left on migration with Sandhill Cranes on 8 December. She is currently in Jackson Co, IN.

70_16 (M) was released in Marathon Co., WI in November. He moved to Portage Co, WI, where on 12 December he was captured for translocation to Alabama. He was released at Wheeler NWR on 14 December and has been associating with 69-16 as well as adult Whooping Cranes present on the refuge.

69_16 (F) spent all of December associating with 1_11 and 59_13 at Wheeler NWR in Alabama. She also began associating with 70_16 after his translocation to Wheeler.

Migration

Indiana: The following cranes have been confirmed in Greene County in December: 3_11, 7_11, 18_03, 36_09, 34_09, 4_08, 1_10, W1_06, 12_03, 29_09, 24_13, W10_15 (see above), 8_04, W3_10, 10_09, 17_07, 13_03, 9_05, 29_08, 4_11, and 19_10.  12_09, 10_11, 19_09, 25_10, 16_02, and 16_07 were reported in Gibson County, IN. W18_15 (see above), 16_04, 19_14, and 12_05 were reported in Knox County, IN. 10_10, 41_09, and 71_16 were in Jackson County, IN. 28_05 was reported in the beginning of the month in Jasper Co.

Illinois: Three 2015 DAR birds (61-15, 63-15, 67-15) are in Randolph County, IL (see above).

Kentucky: 2_04 and 25_09, 24_09 and 42_09, are in Hopkins Co. 31-16 and 38-16 are in Crittenden Co.

Tennessee: 68_15 and 66_15 have been confirmed in Rhea or Meigs Counties (see above). 5_10, 28_08, and 14_12 were also confirmed in Rhea/Meigs Counties during December. 29_16 and 39_16 are in Dyer Co (see above).

Alabama: During December, the following Whooping Cranes were confirmed at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge: 69_16 (see above), 14_15 (see above), 10_15 (see above), 11_15 (see above), 70_16 (see above), 1_11, 59_13, 18_11, 15_11, 38_08, 5_11, 12_11, 14_08, 24_08, 1_04, 27_06, 26_09, 27_14, 65_15 (see above), 6_15 (see above), 38_09, 9_03, 3_04, 13_02, and 18_02. In the end of December, 8_15 was in Sumter Co, AL (see above). 20-14 and 37-07 have been confirmed at their wintering area in Jackson Co, AL.

Florida: 8_14 and 4_13, 5-12, 4-14 at St. Marks. 33-16 is in Citrus Co (see above).

Georgia: 4_12, 3_14, and 30_16 are in Floyd Co, GA (see above). 2_15 is in Thomas Co, GA (see above).

Louisiana: 20_15 has returned to Louisiana and is in Saint Martin Parish (see above).

Mortality

62_15 (M) was found dead on 18 December likely due to powerline collision in Randolph County, IL.  

Another Shooting

Female whooping crane number 4-11 has apparently been shot at her winter location in southwest Indiana. 

She was a mother last spring for the first time. Here is a link to her biography on Journey North.

We don’t know a lot of details at this time but you can CLICK to read the news article. 

In order to help catch the individual responsible, Indiana DNR Law District 5 asked this information be shared, and if anyone has any information about the poaching to contact the Indiana Conservation Officer Dispatch at 812-837-9536.

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