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Whooping Crane Confirmed in Wisconsin



March 24, 2004

Joan Garland, International Crane Foundation, 608-356-9462 ext. 142
Rachel Levin,
US Fish and Wildlife Service, 612-713-5311
Bob Manwell,
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, 608-264-9248
Molly Mehl,
Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, 608-565-4412
Heather Ray,
Operation Migration Inc., 800-675-2618


The first whooping crane to return to Wisconsin from Florida this year has been confirmed. The crane, known as “6-01”, was confirmed amid 20 sandhill cranes Sunday in Marquette County, Wisconsin by International Crane Foundation’s Anne Lacy, Field Ecology Project Coordinator. This crane is one of five pioneering endangered birds from the first year of an ongoing reintroduction effort that uses ultralight aircraft to guide young cranes on their first southward migration.

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) is a consortium of non-profit organizations and government agencies working together to return a migratory population of whooping cranes to eastern North America, which is a portion of its historic range.

The “Class of 2001” was the first group of whooping cranes to be led south using ultralight aircraft along a new eastern North America flyway. Project partner, Operation Migration Inc., led two more groups of cranes south in the fall of 2002 and 2003. The juvenile cranes are led on a 1,200 mile journey from Wisconsin’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia, arriving at Florida’s Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in late fall where they spend the winter in an open-topped release enclosure. The ultralight aircraft is only used during the cranes’ first fall migration; they return to Wisconsin on their own in the spring. Project biologists believe the 2003 cranes will do the same. There are currently 36 whooping cranes in this reintroduction project. Prior to 2001, whooping cranes had not migrated over the eastern portion of North America in more than a century.

Other cranes from the Class of 2001, as well as cranes from the Class of 2002, have begun their spring migrations. The public can track their progress on the Web at

WCEP founding members are the International Crane Foundation, International Whooping Crane Recovery Team, Operation Migration Inc., National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and National Wildlife Health Center, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Many other flyway states, provinces, private individuals and conservation groups have joined forces with and support WCEP by donating resources, funding and personnel. More than 60 percent of the project’s estimated $1.8 million budget comes from private sources in the form of grants, donations and corporate sponsors.

For more information on the project, its partners, and how you can help, visit the WCEP website at for updates on the spring migrations visit for updates on the fall migrations visit

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Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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