Wisconsin conservationists helped seven Whooping cranes migrate south this fall, according to a report released Friday.
The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership gradually combats crane extinction with a bird sanctuary dedicated to the endangered species. The cranes, endangered in Wisconsin, hatch in the late spring or summer and then are trained for survival in the wild.
Trainers teach the cranes to follow aircraft flown by Operation Migration, Inc. to Florida for their first migration. The Whooping cranes then travel on their own between the site in Wisconsin and a protected wildlife reserve in Florida each year.
The organization has employed two methods and is in the process of researching which is more effective. One dresses OM workers in bird costumes to avoid humans being imprinted by the baby cranes. The other uses captive parent cranes to raise them.
The WCEP has helped 106 cranes learn to migrate to and from Florida to date, helping to bring the crane population up from 21 in the 1940s to approximately 450.