Monday, March 23, 2009

Wildlife officials worried about whooping cranes

From the Houston Chronicle:

"ROCKPORT, Texas - Wildlife managers are worried that some of the whooping cranes wintering at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge may be too weak and malnourished to successfully make their return to Canada this season. The drought has affected the flock that spends each winter on the Texas Gulf Coast. The birds have had trouble finding food because low water levels have decreased the number of blue crabs, which make up 85 percent of the endangered species' diet."

Link: Read the rest of the article.

Link: Tom Stehn's most recent census flight reports (PDF).

We cannot lose sight of the fact that the Aransas population of Whooping Cranes can be decimated within in a bad season. It's possible we could lose a substantial portion of their population to some other unanticipated calamity, like a disease ravaging the flock. Though much progress has been accomplished, we have not yet saved these birds from the threat of exctinction. Operation Migration's Wisconsin-Florida flock, as we learned a few years ago, can also experience dramatic losses and setbacks. Though I know many of us are less willing to donate to charities during economic hard times, I encourage my blog readers to try and keep giving whatever they can to conservation groups like Operation Migration and the International Crane Foundation. Buy a Federal Duck Stamp! No amount is too small!

Link: Operation Migration

Link: International Crane Foundation

Link: Friends of Aransas and Matagorda Island NWR

Whooping Crane image courtesy of USF&W

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