US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version

June 2005


Published by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.


Whooping cranes are one of the best known of all endangered species and symbolize the struggle to maintain the vanishing creatures of this world. One scientist estimated that only 1400 whoopers survived by 1860. Their population continued to decline due to drainage of wetlands, conversion of grasslands to agriculture, and hunting until only 15 or 16 cranes survived the winter of 1941-42 in Texas. The present world population is about 450 wild and captive whooping cranes (2005). Only one self-sustaining population survives in the wild; these birds spend the winter at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast and nest in Wood Buffalo National Park in the Northwest Territories of Canada, migrating 2,500 miles twice annually. There are approximately 200 birds in this flock. Over the last 50 years this population has increased an average of 4. 6 percent annually. If this rate continues, the population wintering along the Texas coast will total 400 birds by the year 2020.