Wood Buffalo National Park has 68 Whooping Crane Nests

by Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Sixty-eight whooping crane nests were located during the 2015 Whooping Crane nesting survey on Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada according to Sharon Irwin, Resource Management Officer. The nest survey was accomplished from May 25 to May 29. Survey data is then carefully analyzed to assure accuracy. “We do not count chicks as an official part of this survey, but after reviewing photographs taken during the survey, we were able to count six chicks” explained Irwin.

“The nesting habitat conditions are dry. The water levels in the ponds were lower than normal for this time of year. In other dry years, we have seen that this can force the cranes to travel further to forage for food and can make it easier for predators to access the nesting area” according to Irwin.

Wood Buffalo National Park has 68 Whooping Crane Nests

Adult Whooping crane on nest with chick, Wood Buffalo National Park. photo by Klaus Nigge

Young fledgling Whooping Cranes will be counted during August to determine the number that hatched and survived.

“An interesting development this year was a new nest at the Salt Plains area. The Salt Plains are in the Wood Buffalo Park but we have never had a nest in this area before”, reported Tim Gauthier, Communications Officer. The Salt Plains is not a Zone 1 Special Preservation Area like the core Whooping Crane nesting area. In the core area aircraft must fly over at a minimum of 2,000 feet above ground level and it is closed to people from April 15 to October 31. Although the pair could be seen at the Salt Plains, access is limited by a creek and wet, muddy ground that discourages people from going too close to the nest site.

Parks Canada is a world leader in conservation and as the whooping cranes are under their stewardship, they play a central role in the nesting survey and in the fledgling survey that takes place later in the summer according to Friends of the Wild Whooper. Gauthier reported that “Sharon Irwin, Wood Buffalo National Park Resource Conservation Officer took part in the whole survey, as did John Conkin, of the Canadian Wildlife Service. Other Parks Canada staff also took part at various times during the survey, as well as a photographer who joined us for half a day. Phoenix Helicopters provided flights for the entire survey.”

Locating the Whooping Crane nest is a tried and proven technique used by Parks Canada for many years. “We fly a grid survey over last year’s nest locations. If we do not find a nest on a grid search we then fly to the old nest site and fly ever widening circles around site. We also have recent locations for satellite banded birds to check” explained Irwin.

“Now, we must wait and hope that the young Whooper chicks will survive in large numbers and add to the last remaining original Whooping Crane population on earth” explains Pam Bates, Vice-President, Friends of the Wild Whoopers.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

UNESCO ask for investigation of impacts to Wood Buffalo National Park

Whooping crane nesting area.

Whooping Crane Nesting Grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park ©2014 John McKinnon , Wood Buffalo National Park, Parks Canada. Click on photo to enlarge.

Editor’s Note: Friends of the Wild Whoopers is aware of the hydro-electric and oil and gas development in the vicinity of Wood Buffalo National Park. We are also concerned about potential impacts of these developments. Unfortunately, due to the vastness of the region and difficulty to travel there, we do not have the resources to visit the sites of concern at this time. Fortunately, however, we do have some well-informed sources that keep us apprised. And we will do our best to keep you informed. Stay tuned.

Now, we invite you to read the following article and watch the video at end of article:

—————————————————————————————————————–

Mikisew Cree First Nation Applauds UNESCO Decision on Wood Buffalo National Park

07/01/2015

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwired – July 1, 2015) – The Mikisew Cree First Nation is pleased that today, at the 39thsession of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany, UNESCO requested that Canada invite a Reactive Monitoring mission to conduct an in-depth investigation of how Wood Buffalo National Park is being impacted by hydro-electric and oil and gas development. Wood Buffalo National Park was listed as a World Heritage Site over 30 years ago for its globally unique and important ecosystems.

After acknowledging the threats to Wood Buffalo National Park from hydro-electric dams, oil sands development, and proposed open-pit mining near the Park, UNESCO also requested that Canada not take any decision related to development projects that would be difficult to reverse. UNESCO also requested that Canada undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment to assess the potential cumulative impacts of all developments on the Park.

UNESCO’s decisions comes in response to a petition from Mikisew in December to place Wood Buffalo National Park on the list of World Heritage in Danger.

“We are deeply concerned about the existing impact of industrial activity and climate change on the Wood Buffalo National Park and the new threats posed by megaprojects upstream of the Peace-Athabasca Delta.

We thank the World Heritage Committee for taking Mikisew’s concerns seriously in today’s decision,” says Mikisew Chief Steve Courtoreille.

To read entire article, click on: UNESCO Decision.

 

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

Drought impacting whooping cranes of Wood Buffalo-Northern Journal

Drought impacting whooping cranes of Wood Buffalo

by Dali Carmichael of the Northern Journal

Some nesting whooping cranes of Wood Buffalo have been forced to relocate their summer homes this year as a result of low water levels and nearby forest fires. Photo: Klaus Nigge

Some nesting whooping cranes of Wood Buffalo have been forced to relocate their summer homes this year as a result of low water levels and nearby forest fires. Photo: Klaus Nigge

This time last year, biologists at Wood Buffalo National Park were elated to count a record-breaking number of whooping crane nests in the park, but recent counts indicate that trend has not continued into 2015.

In this year’s annual nest count survey, Parks staff found only 68 nests compared to 82 last year. Though not an official part of the study, they also counted six chicks during the assessment period from May 25 to 29.

To complete the annual research, conservation officers fly in a grid over last year’s nest locations. If the nests are not found, they fly in ever-widening circles around old nest sites in hopes of finding the birds’ new mating grounds nearby. They can also track cranes that have been fitted with satellite location bands.

Parks staff believe the low nest count means the cranes have moved outside of this research grid, the result of drought in the region.

To read the entire article on the Northern Journal’s website, click here.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.