USGS Eliminating Whooping Crane Propagation Program

Misty McPhee‎ to Birding Wisconsin 7/18/17

Hi all. Here is an important update regarding whooping crane conservation.

Due to budget cuts, the USGS is eliminating the whooping crane propagation program. The primary facility for housing and breeding whooping cranes is the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. This population is vital to crane research and the rearing efforts of chicks for reintroduction into the wild. According to the USGS, “This eliminates the largest dedicated captive breeding effort for Endangered Species Act-listed cranes and eliminates capacity within Interior for avian studies that require controlled studies with large, rare birds.”

My major issue with this is the lack of transparency and the timing. Initially, the Whooping Crane Recovery Team was told to find homes for all of the birds by the end of September. I believe that’s now March but it still isn’t enough time to relocate 150 whooping and sandhill cranes. Appallingly, the acting director of USGS reportedly suggested that the cranes be euthanized. Luckily, that idea was shot down.

Based on a conversation with a colleague who works with the crane program at USGS, this cut will save only $50,000 a year. In addition, they said no one is being fired but behind the scenes they are encouraging everyone to find new jobs.

This is very distressing news and will have long-lasting negative impacts on the whooping crane population. If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, please contact your Senators and Representatives voicing your concern.

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