50th Anniversary of Whooping Crane partnership
by Pam Bates, FOTWW
It is noteworthy that this year, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of an international conservation partnership intended to save Whooping Cranes – North America’s tallest bird species. They nest and fledge in Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park in the spring and winter in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. They travel 2,500 miles (5,500 kilometers) two times each year between their summer and winter habitats.
Parks Canada is taking this occasion to highlight what their conservation efforts have accomplished. Friends of the Wild Whoopers has examined their achievements and they are indeed impressive and continuing to show progress.
Wood Buffalo-Aransas Whooping Crane flock grows
Mike Keizer, External Relations Manager, Wood Buffalo explained that, “We have watched the Wood Buffalo-Aransas Whooping Crane flock grow from 48 birds in 1966 to 329 today. In fact, there are almost as many chicks born this year as there were cranes in existence when this partnership began and when annual surveys began in 1966. The 2016 chick count in August 2016 found that 45 chicks were born in 2016. 43 Whooping Crane pairs had one juvenile each and one pair had two juveniles. Annual productivity was 0.57 juveniles per nest, well above than the 20-year average of 0.48 but within the long-term natural range of variation.
Keizer emphasized that, “We are proud of our Canada-USA partnership, of our work and commitment to this endangered species and to the steady progress we continue to see. On this 50th anniversary” we want to share the results of our work with Canadians and our United States friends.”
Successful international stewardship
“This example of successful international stewardship is a model for cooperation amongst conservation groups in the preservation of endangered species that cross international borders” emphasized Friends of the Wild Whoopers President Chester McConnell.
Canada has a network of protected areas, managed by Parks Canada, that play an important role to mitigate the impacts of climate change by protecting and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. Wood Buffalo National Park is one of those protected areas. It is Canada’s largest national park with 11,070,000 acres and supports numerous wildlife species.
***** 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.