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whooping crane

Young Whooping Cranes Led by Ultralight Aircraft to Depart on Experimental Migration


October 12, 2001

Jennifer Rabuck, USFWS, 608-565-4412
Bob Manwell, Wisconsin DNR, 608-264-9248
Joan Guilfoyle, USFWS, 612-713-5311 (cell 612-810-6797)

On Monday, October 15, a small flock of experimental whooping cranes will depart Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin on the longest ultralight-led migration with an endangered species in history. Three ultralight aircraft will lead the birds along a new migration route to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, a journey of nearly 1,200 miles through seven states. After wintering in Florida, the cranes are expected to return to Wisconsin on their own next spring. If successful, migrating whooping cranes will be restored to eastern North American for the first time in over 100 years. Whooping cranes are a federally endangered species reduced to only 16 individuals in 1941. Today's wild and captive population nears 400, but the birds still face threats from cell phone towers, power lines, oil spills, drought and disease.

Media will have an opportunity to see the whooping cranes depart behind ultralight aircraft.

When: Monday, October 15, 2001
Time: Arrive no later than 6:30 a.m. to set up for the departure
Location: Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Office, Necedah, Wisconsin
Directions: Call 608-565-2551 or visit

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership and US Fish and Wildlife Service will host a press conference with the migration team after the morning flight.

When: Monday, October 15, 2001
Time: 12:00 Noon
Location: Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Office, Necedah, Wisconsin
Directions: Call 608-565-2551 or visit
Advance Cancellation: If a delay or cancellation is necessary for technical or biological reasons, that message will be recorded at 612-713-5311 on Sunday, October 14. There is no press availability with the migration team on Sunday. The final flight decision will be made that morning based on weather and other local conditions.

Press kits and b-roll will be available at the press conference and from these Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership contacts, north to south:

Operation Migration Inc., Blackstock Ontario, Canada, Heather Ray, 1-800-675-2618

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minneapolis MN, Brian Norris, 612-713-5310

International Crane Foundation, Baraboo WI, Kate Fitzwilliams, 608-356-9462, Ext. 147

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Bob Manwell, 608-264-9248

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Necedah WI, Jennifer Rabuck, 608-565-4412

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington DC, Cindy Hoffman, 202-208-3008

Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, Carol Knowles, 217-785-0970

Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, Indianapolis, John Marshall, 317-232-4087

KY Fish and Wildlife Resources, Frankfort, Lee Carolan, 502-564-7109, x459

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Crosseville, Dan Hicks, 931-484-9571

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta GA, Evelyn Azar, 404-679-7290

Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Forsyth, Kitty Esco, 478-994-1438

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal River FL, Takako Hashimoto, 352-563-2088

FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Comm., Tallahassee, Henry Cabbage, 850-488-8843

Daily updates, press kits, audio clips, photographs and links to other Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership sites are available at 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 that 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.

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on the Whooping Crane

Whooping Crane Reintroduction Project

Whooping Crane Photos

US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species page

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2001 News Releases

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