Tom Stehn “Whooping Crane Science Advisor’

By Chester McConnell, FOTWW

Tom Stehn is now the “Whooping Crane Science Advisor” for Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW). Tom will provide answers to questions about Whooping Cranes posed by the interested public. Tom will also provide guidance to FOTWW concerning conservation, management and future needs of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population of wild Whooping Cranes. The Aransas-Wood Buffalo Whooping Crane flock is the only self-sustaining wild population on earth.

Tom Stehn

Figure 1. Tom Stehn checking on Whooping Cranes.

A question and answer section “Ask Tom Stehn” has been established on FOTWW’s web page. Questions asked by anyone will be entertained on the web site in an effort to provide scientifically accurate information to the public. To go to the site click here.

Tom Stehn’s professional qualifications and experience with Whooping Cranes are well known in the scientific community. He is a world class Whooping Crane biologist. He retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.

Tom served as the refuge biologist at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge for 15 years and as the U.S. Coordinator of Whooping Crane Recovery Program for 14 years.  During these years he kept tabs on the only wild population of Whooping Cranes on earth, serving as the observer on weekly census flights.

Tom Stehn

Figure 2. Tom keeping watch over the Whoopers.

He served as a member of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team for 25 years.  He directed management and research efforts on the Whoopers, publishing 17 scientific articles.  Twice he helped radio-track the cranes between Texas and Canada, helped get erosion control mats installed along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and served for many years as the burn boss at Aransas carrying out prescribed burns to promote upland whooping crane use.

In 2016, Tom was selected by the North American Crane Working Group as the 8th recipient of the Walkinshaw Award given for long-time contributions to crane research and conservation. He has received may other awards during his distinguished career.

Tom Stehn has always stood ready to help others who needed to tap into his knowledge base and sought his advice. Friends of the Wild Whoopers is pleased and honored that he is continuing his willingness to share his knowledge about Whooping Cranes.

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Corps of Engineers Lakes Being Examined As Whooping Crane Stopover Habitat

By Pam Bates, Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Many have asked us how the Friends of the Wild Whoopers’, (FOTWW) “stopover habitat” program is doing. We can say that since we started our program that it has been met with overwhelming interest and many positive accolades. What we are happy to see is that the military, reservations and Corps of Engineers are very enthusiastic and eager to provide suitable and healthy habit for our wild whooping cranes as they migrate along the Central Flyway.

stopover habitat

Whooping Crane stopover habitat with one juvenile and two adult Whooping Cranes. Photo by John Noll

FOTWW is hard at work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect and improve Corps’ lakes for Whooping Cranes “stopover habitat”. During their 2,500-mile migration from Canada to Texas the Whooping Cranes must stop and rest 15 to 20 times. Unfortunately this important habitat is being lost due to developments of various kinds. So FOTWW sought the Corps help. The Corps has over 100 large lakes in the migration corridor that wild Whooping Cranes use two times each year. So the Corps agreed to help and a Memorandum of Understanding has been developed between them and FOTWW.

Whooping Cranes have completed their fall migration from Wood Buffalo nesting area to Aransas Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast. They normally stopover an average of about 10 to 20 times during their journey. They need to rest and feed occasionally during the 2,500 mile trip. Some of these birds stopover on Corps’ lakes and FOTWW believed many more will use the lakes once more habitats have been improved.

Corps lakes as potential stopover habitat

Chester McConnell, President of Friends of the Wild Whoopers’ is currently traveling to Corps lakes and making evaluations of their potential as stopover habitat. To date, he has visited Benbrook Lake, Lavon Lake Bardwell Lake and Granger Lakes in Texas. In Nebraska, he visited Harlan County Lake. And in Kansas he recently completed visits to Wilson Lake, Kanopolis Lake and Milford Lake. McConnell explained that he was pleasantly surprised at the currently excellent quality of some lake properties. And, he followed, “I believe that much more habitat can be greatly improved at very low costs.” FOTWW is committed to continue their cooperative project with the Corps to provide more habitat for the endangered Whoopers.

Stopover habitats already evaluated

FOTWW has already completed evaluations of Whooping Crane habitats on 31 U.S. military bases and 8 Indian Reservations. All had some good habitats but many needed improvements. FOTWW prepared evaluation reports with recommendations for improvements where needed.

Some of the wetland pond habitats on military bases and Indian Reservations will require minor management to suit the needs of Whoopers but the managers are up to the task advised McConnell. Military bases are legally required to have natural resources programs and the stopover project is completely compatible with the laws. Project leaders do not request base officials to do anything that would interfere with the military mission of the bases.

“Stopover places are just as important as wintering and nesting areas because Whooping Cranes can’t fly the entire 2,500 migration corridor in one trip,” McConnell explained.

Won’t you please consider helping?

If you would like to help us continue this on going project, would you please consider becoming a member/friend or making a donation to help our efforts and some of our expenses? You can either become a member/friend or you can send us a donation by check or PayPal. Please click here .

FOTWW is an all volunteer nonprofit organization and no one receives a salary, so all of your contributions go to help the only natural wild flock of Whooping Cranes remaining on earth.

Won’t you please consider helping us so we can help them?

Endangered, there is still time, but extinct is forever!

THANK YOU!

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