FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 26, 2001
The experimental flock of young whooping cranes being led by ultralight aircraft on a historic flight to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge is expected to land at an undisclosed location in Citrus County, Florida, sometime during the week of November 26th. This experimental migration is being conducted under the direction of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a unique coalition of state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations working together to establish a migratory flock of whooping cranes in eastern North America.
The earliest expected date of arrival is Tuesday, November 27, but could be delayed due to weather, aircraft and/or bird considerations. The final decision to fly is made each morning by Operation Migration, Inc. and will be relayed to the refuge office as soon as possible.
Members of the media are invited to come to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge headquarters office in Crystal River, Florida, on the morning of the arrival to photograph the cranes and ultralights as they pass by enroute to their final mainland landing site. Media would then be transported to a private landing strip to photograph the landing of three ultralights with costumed pilots and a Cessna 182 single-engine plane, and to attend the press conference with the migration team. Media should be at the refuge headquarters by 7:30 a.m. Only members of the media are permitted at these two locations. The general public is invited to see the cranes and ultralight aircraft in flight from the north end of the Crystal River Mall, at 7:30 a.m. that same morning. The Whoop It Up Hotline is an updated recorded message regarding the public event: 352-564-0326.
A press conference is open to official/credentialed media crews only. Media must come to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters office to gain admittance to the press conference location on private property. Advance reservations are highly recommended due to limited ground transport. The use of private vehicles for transport to the press conference will be very limited.
Due to the extreme sensitivity of the young whooping cranes to unfamiliar locations and the need to keep the cranes completely isolated from human contact, no press are allowed at the actual landing site. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership hopes to arrange for a pool photographer to provide mini-DV video tape and digital still photographs of the actual landing of the cranes and ultralights. These b-roll and stills would be available at the press conference. Media are asked to provide their own blank mini-DV tape.
HOW TO ATTEND:
To reserve a space at the refuge headquarters fly-by photo opportunity and subsequent press conference at another location, call the refuge at 352-563-2088. Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters is located 70 miles north of Tampa. From Highway 19 in Crystal River, turn west on Port Paradise Road (one block north of the sign for the Plantation Inn at the intersection of Highway 44 west and Highway 19). Go straight through one stop sign; follow the road to its end bearing to the right on SE Kings Bay Drive past the sign for the Port Hotel and Marina. The refuge office is the first building on the left side, identified as the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. Overflow parking will be available at the Port Hotel and Marina parking lot.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286