Standing at 5 feet tall, the distinctive black and white Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America.
At one time, their range extended throughout the Midwest, from Canada to Mexico. By 1941, hunting and habitat destruction had reduced the crane’s global population to 21 wild birds.
Decades of painstaking restoration efforts, including such techniques as biologists dressed in crane costumes and pilots leading cranes to wintering grounds in ultralight aircraft, have boosted populations to about 800 individuals worldwide.
Their existence remains perilous, as climate change threatens coastal wintering grounds on the Gulf of Mexico. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking to remove the Whooping Crane, along with the Florida Panther and the Key Deer, from the Endangered Species List.
Richard Beilfuss is the President and CEO of the International Crane Foundation, based in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Richard Beilfuss joins to discuss efforts in saving the Whooping Crane.
Image Courtesy: Miguel Pinto / UNSPLASH