August 17, 1999
The process of safeguarding an endangered species is long and complicated and there are often periods when it appears there is nothing being accomplished. If the species in question is migratory, their reintroduction will undoubtedly cross many borders and jurisdictions. Such is the case with the Whooping crane recovery effort and although it looks as if 1999 is a slow year, things are quietly moving along.
The Endangered Species Act places the responsibility for the well being of the remaining populations in the hands of the Federal Government. It also gives them authority over their habitat. If we are to introduce Whooping cranes into Wisconsin and lead them to Florida and in the future they decide they prefer other sites, that area will be protected under the act. It is for these reasons, and others, that all concerned have a say in the recovery plan and this, of course, takes time. So far all is going well but at their last meeting the Recovery Team asked us to postpone our field studies for 99 to allow time for the politics to catch up with the science.
A year without raising birds seemed like an eternity and after migrating every fall for ten years the instinct is as strong in us as it is in them. The break, however, has been beneficial, allowing us time to raise funds to carry on. Bill called the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to say we would be interested in attending their annual air show. Their response was overwhelming and we spent almost a month preparing. The EAA gave us a prime location in the centre of the convention, right next to the media headquarters and we converted our enclosed aircraft trailer to a walk-through display. We built panels and hung photographs and information on the recovery effort, the history of OM and the Whooping crane. We used video monitors, back-lit posters and gave a presentation in the "Theater in the Woods" Over 800,000 people attended the show along with 12,000 aircraft and 30,000 vehicles in the camping area.
The EAA, along with all aviators is preoccupied with records; the first, the fastest, the highest and the furthest. Operation Migration has set an aviation record of a different sort. Using ultralight aircraft, the grass roots of the industry, we are helping establish new migration routes for endangered birds, something no other aircraft can accomplish.
The entire event was a great success and we would like to thank all those that made it possible. Our appreciation to Tom Poberezny (EAA President) for inviting us and Sue Smick for paving the way. Thanks to Heather Ray and her husband Steve who took two weeks off work without pay to stand in the sweltering heat and promote our cause. Again, thanks to Deke Clark and Rebecca Cohen-Pardo whos truck we drove and whos motorhome we stayed in. We are grateful to Richard Van Heuvelan for his time, his patience and the use of his motorhome. Thanks to Don and Paula Lounsbury who initially planned to see the show but spent most of their time working our booth. Thanks to Stiechenlab in Toronto for the free prints and to Jodie Faraday at Peace Bridge Brokers for getting our border-crossing documentation in place. Finally, we appreciate all those that expressed an interest in OM and the donors who contributed.
Being situated next to the Media Centre was an unexpected bonus for which we thank the show organizers. It gave us ample public coverage and during interviews we were often asked why we carry on. The answer is simple; we are all aviators and the species that taught us the art of flying needs our help .. how can we refuse?
June 4, 1999
Sorry for the delay in updating this page... Not much is happening on the bird front and we have been busy attempting to raise much needed funds required for next years project. The Tom Yawkey birds, (11) have been joined by a wild Sandhill friend. In the middle of May, all the birds, including the wild one, vanished from the Tom Yawkey Wildlife center and were not seen nor heard from till we finally received some satellite hits locating them on the coast of North Carolina, near the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge. It seems they stayed there for approximately one week. Stacey Floyd, our crane watcher at Tom Yawkey called the following week to report that they had returned to SC. They stayed there for about 2 days then disappeared again! More satellite hits informed us that they again traveled back to where they had been in North Carolina! Although they are traveling north, they seem to be following the coast. We really do not expect them to return to Ontario as they were not shown the route on the way down. They seem to know that they must migrate but they're not sure exactly where to? As of this writing, they are still in NC.