The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) recently added 10 whooping cranes to its experimental population, the most since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Six juvenile cranes, hatched and reared at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans, part of the Audubon Nature Institute, along with four chicks from the International Crane Foundation (ICF) were received at LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) near Gueydan on Nov. 3.
LDWF, the Audubon Nature Institute and ICF have been longtime leaders in whooping crane conservation in Louisiana and continue to expand their partnership with the goal of developing a self-sustaining population of whooping cranes in Louisiana.
LDWF and Audubon are committed to the long-term growth and stability of the whooping crane population. That commitment is supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Cameron LNG, the Coypu Foundation and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation.
Since 2011, Chevron has invested in LDWF’s whooping crane reintroduction project. In addition to Chevron’s financial contributions, their employees have also given volunteer hours.
“The arrival and eventual release of these 10 chicks into our population, on top of what has already been a banner year for our whooping crane program, is an additional positive step forward for Louisiana’s population and the species,’’ LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said. “We thank our partners who have helped make this reintroduction process a success and we look forward to working with them in the years to come.’’
With the release of the new arrivals into the wild, the Louisiana population will be 87 cranes. They had disappeared from the state in the 1950s and much of the world.
The Louisiana flock began in 2011 when 10 whooping cranes from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland were released at White Lake WCA to develop the non-migratory flock. This marked a significant conservation milestone with the first wild whooping cranes in Louisiana since 1950.
Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance and to report the sighting to LDWF (https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/report-a-whooping-crane-sighting-or-violation ). Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds with a red head and black facial markings. Birds measure a height of five feet and have a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet that makes them very distinctive. In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips and a fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail. For more information about the project please visit LDWF’s website: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/subhome/whooping-crane and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lawhoopingcranes/.
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to call the LDWF’s Enforcement Division at 1-800-442-2511 or use the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the “LADWF Tips” iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.
Citizen Observer, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.
For photos, video and interviews on the release, go to https://ldwf.canto.com/v/2022WhoopingCraneArrival/.