North American Crane Working Group


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Nesbitt, Stephen A., Folk, Martin J., Sullivan, Kathleen A., Schwikert, Stephen T. , and Spalding, Marilyn G. An update of the Florida whooping crane release project through June 2000. In: Ellis, David H., ed., Proceedings of the Eighth North American Crane Workshop, 11–14 January 2000, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Seattle, Wash: North American Crane Working Group, 2001), pp. 62-72.


Reproduced by permission of the North American Crane Working Group (NACWG).


Whooping cranes (Grus americana) reared mostly at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (patuxent) or the International Crane Foundation (ICF) have been released in Florida in an effort to reestablish a nonmigratory population in the southeastern United States. From 1993 through spring of 2000, we released 208 cranes. Modifications to the release procedure instituted in 1995 have greatly reduced mortality from the initial release period. First year mortality has averaged 50%. A longterm drought that began after spring 1998 may have contnbuted to increased first year mortality in recent years. Most mortality has been from predation, mostly bobcat (Lynx rufus) and alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). Molt flightlessness may have been a factor in some recent drought-related mortalities. Other health issues regard ingestion of metal and monitoring for EEE. Dispersal range has increased in recent years again perhaps due to ongoing drought conditions. Sixteen pairs of whooping cranes have formed. The first nest with eggs occurred in 1999 and in 2000 the first pair hatched young.