Injured Whooping Crane Released Back Into Wild At Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge In Meigs County

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thanks to the helpful veterinarians and wildlife staff from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, an injured endangered whooping crane is free again, and in the company of other cranes.

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) first heard there was a problem with one of the 111 whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population from members of the public who first reported a whooping crane limping around the outskirts of North Miami.

The female crane, #13-12, is part of a special effort to establish an eastern migrating population of whooping cranes.  Released directly into the wild on October 2012 at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin, it linked up with five other young-of-the year birds and migrated together, ending up the furthest south so far of any bird in this population since releases began in 2001.

This is the first time whooping cranes have reached the Everglades, foraging in Hendry County (Southwest of Okeechobee) at remote cattle ranches.  In early January, two cranes showed up at the interface of wetlands and suburbia on the eastern side of the Everglades, in Broward and Dade Counties.  Members of the public reported that one of the birds was limping.  This bird later showed signs of distress, acting  listless, with an apparent injury to her right foot.

The partnership team responsible conducted a quick but thorough discussion to determine the best possible outcomes, weighing the risks of capture with the benefits of medical treatment and possible relocation.

“We chose to capture this injured whooping crane, and it has turned out to be the right call,” said Billy Brooks, Whooping Crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Eastern Migratory Population. “Because of the efforts of Dr. Scott Terrell, DVM, at Disney, and that of the capture team, we were able to get this bird healthy and back out into the wild.”

She was captured on Jan. 26, and transported to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where her right middle toe was amputated due to an injury and subsequent infection. 

The veterinarians maintained an isolation protocol, operating in costume without using human voices as they treated the bird. 

She remained at Disney and continued to improve until being transported north on Saturday. 

“The longer you hold a bird, the tamer it can become,” said Mr. Brooks. “We have to keep them as wild as possible, and two weeks in captivity is about as long as we like to keep an injured bird in captivity.”

The crane was released at Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, Tn., on Saturday. 

No other whooping crane from this population has ever been captured, transported to a medical facility, treated, and successfully re-released back into the wild over the 12 years of the program.  Prior to this case, none had been deemed releasable due to the extent of their injuries.

Whooping cranes were on the verge of extinction in the 1940s. Today, there are only about 600 birds in existence, approximately 445 of them in the wild. Aside from the WCEP birds, the only other migratory population of whooping cranes nests at Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta, Canada and winters at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast. A non-migratory flock of approximately 20 birds lives year-round in the central Florida Kissimmee region, and an additional 28 non-migratory cranes live in southern Louisiana.

Formed in 1999, WCEP is a group of agencies, non-profit organizations, and individuals. The partnership’s mission is the restoration of a self-sustaining migratory population of whooping cranes in eastern North America.  Achievement of this mission will bring the whooping crane closer to recovery from its current status as a species in danger of extinction.

For more information on the project and its partners, visit the WCEP website at: http://www.bringbackthecranes.org.

To report whooping crane sightings, visit the WCEP whooping crane observation webpage at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/sightings/sightingform.cfm.


Annual Beyond Bow Muzzleloader Scheduled Nov. 11-13

The 2016 Beyond Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Muzzleloader Workshop will be sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Nov. 11-13 in Humphreys County. Female hunters 18 and older will have the opportunity to learn about hunting deer during the weekend. The workshop will be held at Buffalo Ridge Refuge which incorporates a variety of wildlife management practices and totals ... (click for more)

TWRA To Conduct Roadblocks On Agency Controlled Lands

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is planning to conduct roadblocks on several TWRA controlled or managed lands during the upcoming hunting seasons. TWRA controlled and managed lands include Wildlife Management Areas, public hunting areas, wildlife refuges and other properties under agency ownership or control including TVA property, Corps of Engineer lands, and the Cherokee ... (click for more)

County GOP Chairman Says Berke Should Resign For Admittedly Using Encrypted Messaging With Top Staff; Berke, Lee Call It Blatant Partisan Attack

Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke "should immediately resign after admitting that he and his senior staff employ an encrypted message application that neither records or stores messages sent and received for the purpose of official city of Chattanooga business on a government-owned server." He said he was guilty of "deliberates ... (click for more)

Grohn Says Berke Use Of Encrypted Message Service Was Deliberate Attempt To Avoid Open Records

City Councilman Larry Grohn said Friday  that the use of an encrypted message service by Mayor Andy Berke was a deliberate attempt to avoid the Open Records Act. Councilman Grohn, who is running for mayor, said, " In recent days, there has been one story after another come out concerning how the Mayor and his head staffers have used end-to-end encryption apps to ... (click for more)

Chattanooga's Citizens Are The Best

Today, when I finished my shift, my wife and I had a rare kid-free time where she and I could enjoy a nice quiet dinner. So, when I left my extra job and she left her job, we met at a neat local place in St. Elmo. She and I had been looking forward to and planning this dinner all day. You see, between my work with the city of Chattanooga, my many hours of extra jobs, and our responsibilities ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Knobfather & Me

I’ve seen some beautiful things in my life. I’ve eaten dinner inside the Eiffel Tower with the city of Paris all aglitter below. I’ve been sprayed by champagne in the Dallas Cowboys’ dressing room after they won the Super Bowl. I’ve stood both at the top and at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I’ve snorkeled in the Great Exuma islands, learned to snow ski in the Austrian Alps, and ... (click for more)