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Endangered Whooping Cranes Following Ultralights Reach Georgia Skies


November 25, 2002

Heather Ray, Operation Migration, Inc., (905) 718-1292
Tom MacKenzie, US Fish and Wildlife Service, (404) 679-7291 or (678) 296-6400 (cell)
Robin Hill, Georgia DNR, (770) 761-3035



Ultralight-led migration of 16 endangered whooping cranes, which began on October 13 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin headed for Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, arrived in Pike County today, Monday, November 25, 2002


Joe Duff, Richard van Heuvelen, Brooke Pennypacker and Bill Lishman - Ultralight Pilots, Operation Migration, Inc.
Dan Sprague - Crane Biologist, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Kelly Maguire - Crane Biologist, International Crane Foundation
Brian Clauss - Crane Biologist, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 6:30 a.m. - Brief interviews and photo opportunities with the pilots and biologists -- footage of the birds and ultralight at take-off.

Note: Please be aware that the location and exact time of the migration will be determined as weather permits.


Pike County (see directions below)
The media is asked to report only the county, not the exact location of the stopover site, out of respect for the landowner and isolation of the birds. Please DO NOT wear bright colored clothing. Camouflage and natural earth tone colors are recommended.


This seven state, 1,250-mile migration is the second experimental attempt to establish a migratory flock of endangered whooping cranes into the eastern United States. In 2001, the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) led seven whooping crane chicks behind ultralight aircraft to Florida and five successfully made the unassisted return to central Wisconsin this past spring. One of those five cranes has just returned unassisted to Florida to winter. Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s. Today, there are still only about 260 birds in the wild. For the study to be successful, pilots and biologists must maintain the cranes "wildness." This means they cannot make any human noises such as coughing or talking, and they dress in costumes to mask their human form and use adult crane puppet heads to mimic adult bird behaviors. The work of Operation Migration, Inc. was featured in the film Fly Away Home.

Note: B-roll is available by calling 905/718-1292. More information can be found on-line at or Daily updates are recorded at 904/232-2580 x102.


visit and type in the mailing address to get different maps.

339 Old Zebulon Road
Zebulon, GA 30295

From Zebulon, take Highway 19 South. Approximately 1 mile south of Zebulon, turn right on to Old Zebulon Road. Go approximately 1 mile and look for the Ridgeview Farms sign on the left. Drive through the gate and travel to the migration team vehicles.


For recent pictures go to:

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
visit our home page at or

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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