Wisconsin Field Office
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Whooping Crane (Grus americana)
Reintroducing whooping cranes back to Wisconsin began in 2000. The purpose of the reintroduction is to establish a migratory population in the eastern United States.
Components of the reintroduction project include raising captive-bred chicks at Patuxant Wildlife Research Center, releasing those chicks at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and using two different methods to help the young birds learn the migration route to Florida. Some of the chicks are taught to follow behind and then fly behind ultralight aircraft. Those birds learn their route to Florida by following ultralights piloted by Operation Migration, Inc. Other chicks are released near adult whooping cranes, or near flocks of sandhill cranes with which adult whooping cranes associate. This technique is called "Direct Autumn Release" and those chicks learn the route from the adult whooping cranes.