Whooping cranes

Juvenile whooping cranes are presently pinned in a Louisiana sanctuary before they will be released into the wild.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and partners took another step in re-establishing the state’s whooping crane population this week when it received 11 juvenile whooping cranes.

The cranes were received at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) near Gueydan. Once the new arrivals are released into the wild, they will bring the Louisiana population to nearly 80 cranes.

Of the new arrivals, six juvenile whooping cranes came from the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI and four cranes were hatched and reared at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans, part of the Audubon Nature Institute.

LDWF and Audubon Nature Institute have been longtime leaders in whooping crane conservation in Louisiana and are continuing to expand their partnership with the goal of developing a self-sustaining population of whooping cranes in Louisiana.

LDWF and Audubon are committed to the long-term growth and stability of the whooping crane population. The commitment is supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Cameron LNG, Coypu Foundation and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation.

The 11 whooping cranes were placed into a holding pen at White Lake WCA for observation as they acclimate to their new home. They’re expected to be set free from the release pen after several weeks.

“We’re so pleased that our Louisiana whooping crane population continues to increase,’’ LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said. “We’re well on our way to bringing back a beautiful bird that once could be seen throughout the coastal prairie of southwest Louisiana. And we thank Chevron and our other corporate partners, Audubon and our LDWF biologists who continue to work tirelessly in this process.’’

Montoucet said he also appreciates the cooperation of private landowners in southwest Louisiana who have seen cranes take up residence on their land. “We thank them all and look forward to the continued partnership,” he said.

Since 2011, Chevron has invested in LDWF’s whooping crane reintroduction project. In addition to Chevron’s financial contributions their employees have also given volunteer hours.

“We’re proud to continue our long-standing collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Audubon Nature Institute on whooping crane restoration and repopulation to ensure this endangered species is thriving for generations to come,” said Leah Brown, Corporate Affairs Manager for Chevron's Gulf of Mexico Business Unit.

The Louisiana flock began in 2011 when 10 whooping cranes from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland were released at White Lake WCA to develop the non-migratory flock. This marked a significant conservation milestone with the first wild whooping cranes in Louisiana since 1950.

Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds with a red head and black facial markings. Birds measure a height of five feet and have a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet that makes them very distinctive.

In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips and a fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.

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