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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


 November 8, 2004 

Contacts:  Dave Hilley  620-486-2393                                                                                    Barb Perkins 303-236-4588


            Eighteen whooping cranes from the Aransas/Wood Buffalo wild population were spotted last weekend in the marshes at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), located in south central Kansas.  Whooping cranes are among the most endangered species in North America.  When the cranes are present, the 8,000 acres of public hunting areas on the Refuge are closed. 

            The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is encouraging the public to be aware that the rare whooping cranes are in the area.  Two cranes were injured over the weekend.  Both cranes are currently being treated by Dr. Jim Carpenter at the Kansas State University Veterinary Medical Center in Manhatten.  Dr. Carpenter has determined the cranes are stable and their prognosis is good.  Once the birds are stable enough to travel, they will be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center located in Maryland. 

            Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, located near Stafford, Kansas, serves as a migration stop and wintering area for migratory birds.  Presently over 200,000 sandhill cranes, 300,000 geese, and numerous other waterfowl are using the 22,000-acre Refuge. 

            The whooping crane, a close relative to the smaller sandhill crane, stands nearly 5 feet tall, with a long, sinuous neck and long legs. Its snow-white feathers are accented by jet black wing tips. The head is marked red and black, and the wingspan is about 7-1/2 feet. 

            Whooping cranes symbolize the current struggle to maintain the vanishing creatures of our world.  At the turn of the 20th century, the whooping crane’s environment changed and their numbers declined.  By 1941, there were only 15 birds left in the wild.  The current number of whooping cranes in the Aransas/Wild Buffalo wild population is 193 adults and 40 young. 

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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. 

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