Approximately 33 whooping cranes, captive breeders at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, will take to the air on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, but not via their own wing power. The U.S. Coast Guard will transport the big birds from Laurel, Maryland, to Louisiana, according to a USGS news release. The birds’ destination is the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center near New Orleans, Louisiana. Three will eventually be transferred to the Abilene and San Antonio zoos in Texas.
After 50 years of successful support from the USGS for the conservation of one of North America’s most endangered birds, other institutions will take over captive breeding efforts and focus on reintroducing into their natural habitat. Approximately 75 whooping cranes will be relocated from Patuxent to zoos and other breeding facilities.
The program has been a collaborative effort by the USGS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other organizations and agencies, and its closure signifies considerable achievements in research and recovery for the species. While whooping cranes are still endangered, the overall population has grown more than 10-fold since the captive breeding program began.
Learn more about the USGS PWRC role in Whooping Crane research and the captive breeding program at: https://www.usgs.gov/centers/pwrc/science/whooping-crane-restoration .
Read a Washington Post story on the closure of Patuxent Wildlife Research Center here: https://tinyurl.com/wp-whcr-pwrc .
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