Happy New Year from FOTWW

In a few hours, we will celebrate the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. Friends of the Wild Whoopers, (FOTWW) hopes that you have a safe, healthy, and Happy New Year. May 2016 be filled with the promises of a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you!

FOTWW thanks everyone for 2015 and we hope that you have a Happy New Year!

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ― Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy New Year
Whooping crane at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Klaus Nigge Photography

 

 

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***** 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.

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Friends of Lydia Ann Channel sues over Channel project

By:  Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Friends of Lydia Ann Channel (“FLAC”), a non-profit conservation group in Texas has filed a federal lawsuit against several officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE) for violations of several federal laws including the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).

FLAC’s legal Complaint claims that USACE’s rushed authorization of the construction and operation of this mile and a half long industrial barge facility within the Lydia Ann Channel. Barges using the channel will be accommodating hazardous materials in the middle of one of the most ecologically and recreationally significant waterways along the Texas gulf coast. The barge facility may threaten known endangered species habitat, interfere with and displaces public recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, hunting, boating, and birding, and constitutes a threat to both navigation and to public health and safety.

Lydia Ann Channel
Barges on Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

The Lydia Ann Channel and the affected shoreline of San Jose Island are located within Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, directly adjacent to the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. These two areas are home to or immediately adjacent to known habitat for at least eight federally-listed endangered species: whooping crane, piping plover, rufa red knot, Atlantic hawksbill sea turtle, green sea turtle, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle and loggerhead sea turtle.

FLAC’s legal Complaint

According to FLAC’s legal Complaint, USACE’s authorization of this facility, and the resulting activities and work associated with its operation are substantial and pose a direct threat of harm, injury and death to individual whooping cranes and other endangered species in direct violation of Section 9 of the ESA.

The Lydia Ann Channel and San Jose Island have been used by the public for decades for recreational purposes, including fishing, hunting, swimming, boating, crabbing and wildlife photography and observation.

Whooping Crane Flock affected

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo whooping crane flock is the only natural wild flock of whooping cranes remaining in the world. The current population of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo flock is currently estimated to be only 310 individuals. This flock winters in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and nearby areas in Aransas County, Texas, including San Jose Island, which is immediately adjacent to the barge facility and the petrochemicals and hazardous materials stored there. Whooping cranes have been documented in the vicinity of San Jose Island for the last five years.

The Complaint claims that USACE was clearly put on notice by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that there were federally listed sea turtles in the proposed project area. In addition, even the most basic review of available scientific information would have made it obvious to the USACE that other federally-listed species, specifically whooping cranes, piping plover, and rufa red knot were also in the action area of the proposed project.

FLAC is asking the Federal Court to declare the construction and operation of LAC Moorings’ barge facility unlawful and set aside the action that USACE in authorizing. A map of the project can be found by clicking here.

FOTWW voices their concern

Friends of the Wild Whoopers, a conservation group, commented that: “It seems that a “guerilla war” has been declared on the natural resources of the Texas coast. The Lydia Ann Channel project is just one of several projects and/or government regulatory decisions made during the past several years that are seriously damaging to the natural environment. Such continual chipping away at coastal resources will eventually upset the natural balance so long enjoyed by millions of citizens.

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.

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2015 Winter Whooping Crane Survey Completed

The 2015/2016 winter Whooping Crane Abundance Survey was conducted at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, (ANWR) from December 7th through December. It will take a couple of months for all the data analysis to be completed before the official estimated numbers of the whooping crane population are release.

Whooping Crane
Whooping cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Kevin Sims
Photo by Kevin Sims

According to Dr. Wade Harrell, U.S. Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator, “Overall, habitat appeared to be in excellent condition compared to the past few years and we observed larger than average group sizes (>8) of whooping cranes in several of our primary survey blocks.”

During the spring/summer whooping crane survey conducted at Wood Buffalo National Park, (WBNP) officials did not observe any family groups that included 2 juveniles (i.e. commonly referred to as “twins”). Dr. Harrell reported that during the recent survey, there weren’t any family groups with “twins” observed. FOTWW hopes that next year, “twins” will be migrating from WBNP to ANWR.

To read Dr. Harrell’s summary of the recent surveys please 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.

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When did you first learn about Whooping Cranes?

by C. McConnell, Friends of the Wild Whoopers

“When did you first learn about Whooping Cranes?” This is a question that I have been asked many times. Possibly someone has also asked you that question.

I first learned about Whooping Cranes when I was reading the Weekly Reader, a small newspaper made available to students in our grammar school. I was in the 5th grade during the late 1940’s. Our teacher assigned us to read the paper for an hour after which we would discuss what we read.

While reading I came across a brief article which explained: “About 20 Whooping Cranes have arrived on their annual visit to the Texas coast. These large birds will spend the winter on the coast and then depart about April next year. No one knows where they come from or where they will go. Their destination when they depart is a mystery to federal and state wildlife authorities”.

The next year I read a similar article in the Mobile Press Register newspaper. These two articles really caught my attention and have stuck in my mind throughout the years since. Best I can remember, I read only a couple more articles until I entered wildlife school in 1965 – 25 years later. And even then, in the early 1960’s there was little information about the cranes. It wasn’t until 1955 when it was discovered that Whooping Cranes nested in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. I saw my first wild Whooping Crane in 1994 at Aransas NWR.

How many know about Whooping Cranes?

Whooping Cranes
Whooping Crane Family Photo by Klaus Nigge

In our nation today only a small percentage of citizens have ever heard about Whooping Cranes. How do I now that? Well, I occasionally make presentations to conservation groups about Whoopers. Normally less than half in attendance know what a Whooping Crane is. And during general conversations with people they inquire about my interest. I tell them that I have been involved with helping Whooping Cranes for about the past 20 years. And most people question – “a Whooping what?” But, when thinking it through, it’s easy to understand.

Most U.S. citizens do not live near where Whooping Cranes nest or where they spend the winter or along the relatively narrow migration corridor in the central US. And then there are so many other things to be interested in that Whooping Cranes are far below the radar for most folks.

Importantly, however, those of us who are interested in the magnificent endangered Whooping Cranes are passionate about them. So, now you know my story. What about yours?

Let’s hear about your first encounter.

Friends of the Wild Whoopers would like to hear from you. If you will tell us about your first encounter with Whooping Cranes, we will place all such reports on our web page. So let us hear from you. You can write about your experience in the following “Leave a Reply / Comment” space below or send us an email at admin@FOTWW.org

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.

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