Big Media Taking a Rare Look at Rare Whooping Cranes

It’s not every week, or even every month, that big media outlets focus their resources, and devote time and real space to any of the many stories that can be told about the endangered whooping crane species, but this week the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has published a full-length feature on the status of the Eastern Migratory Population of whooping cranes – the ones that make Wisconsin their home and breeding grounds. And, the Western flock – the Aransas Wood Buffalo Population is in the news because of a federal court ruling.

A 3-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an earlier court’s decision that held that irresponsible water-permitting by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was responsible for the death’s of 23 whooping cranes. This Texas court case is being well-covered at the Friends of the Wild Whoopers blog, which has links at the blog and more on its Facebook page, to statements from the International Crane Foundation, the National Wildlife Federation, and The Aransas Project which was the plaintiff in the case. it also features coverage from the American Statesman of Texas. I can offer one more, from Texas Lawyer. I’ve been following that publication for more than a year, knowing that this case was on appeal, and expecting that the Texas Lawyer might comment about it one day, and here it is.

But back to the whoopers in Wisconsin. I know that Reporter Lee Bergquist, who wrote the article in the Journal-Sentinel, has covered news from the Wisconsin flock from time-to-time, but usually it’s a short notice about the beginning of the ultralight-led migration in the fall, or a report on deaths or injuries of cranes, things like that.

An adult whooping crane pair, photographed at the International Crane Foundation, by Joel Trick, used courtesy of WCEP.

An adult whooping crane pair, photographed at the International Crane Foundation, by Joel Trick, used courtesy of WCEP.

This one is a much longer piece, well-written, and includes interviews with a couple of key figures from the world of whooping cranes, Peter Fasbender of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service who is also a co-chair of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, the other co-chair, Barry Hartup of the International Crane Foundation, and Wade Harrell who is the chair of the U.S. and Canadian Whooping Crane Recovery Team. It also includes a map of the migration route for these cranes, a population graph, and a photo gallery.

All-in-all, it’s very nice coverage for any project to receive, but I know that craniacs (and I guess I’d be remiss not to say that includes me) must be cringing at the negativity implied with the word “struggling,” tossed around in the article and its headlines. I guess I’ll have more to say about this at The Badger and the Whooping Crane next week.

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4 thoughts on “Big Media Taking a Rare Look at Rare Whooping Cranes

  1. I sincerely all ypur post. You do an excellent job covering all whooper programs. Thanks for your hard work and dedication
    Chester McConnell
    Friends of the Wild Whoopers

  2. Thank you so much Chester. I really appreciate that. The whooper programs are -all of them – so important and have really, truly made progress over the years – but it’s slooooow isn’t it ? Like molasses.

    • Thanks, Lee, for reading here & stopping to comment! It’s very much appreciated, I can assure you of that. I did read your article in July a year ago (and did link to it in this post), lots and lots of good information in it. But the overall premise I take from it (and my answer to it now) is that “most experts” are saying it’s time to give up, when I do believe they should be saying “we’re just getting started!”

      First of all, of course this eastern flock is struggling – the entire population is struggling – i’ts “Endangered,” after all. Secondly, you must be familiar with the table of “historic whooping crane numbers” online at the International Crane Foundation. That clearly shows the looong, sloooow climb back from the brink that the western flock has made. For a long time, there was nothing BUT struggle and crisis for it (and of course, with only 300 birds, it’s still truly “endangered.”) So, why should we expect this new experimental, and very vulnerable population in Wisconsin to be different? And finally, it does seem like the Wisconsin cranes just might be getting somewhere, and with all the time and money already invested – why would these experts want to give up now – before the studies on the new White River Marsh nesting territory can even begin? (I’m sorry this is so long, and thanks again to you for visiting, I hope you’ll come back. I look forward to your J-S story on the coming decision.)

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