If you take a stroll down the lakeshore path skirting Lake Mendota, you are likely to encounter one of Madison’s most charismatic residents, the Sandhill crane. These graceful and stately birds are beloved by Madisonians for their distinctive trumpet-like calls and their tall stature. While a cultural and ecological pillar of Madison, the Sandhill crane is also a conservation success story. Due to habitat loss and overhunting in the first half of the 20th century, it was estimated that only a few dozen individuals remained in the state. However, through pioneering legislative protection and the efforts ENGO’s and the Wisconsin DNR, the population has recovered and now numbers in the thousands. Unfortunately, conservation challenges currently afflict many species of cranes all of the globe. Two species of particular concern are the Red-Crowned and White-naped cranes of southeast Asia.
To learn more about the plight of these two species and the efforts currently being made to preserve their dwindling populations, we spoke with Dr. Eugenia Bragina whom recently published an article in the Journal of Ornithological Science on this very topic. Dr. Bragina is an Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow with the SILVIS Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and also the Coordinator of Scientific Capacity Development for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Arctic Beringia Program. Dr. Bragina is a native of Russia, and educator whom earned her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in population ecology and Zoology from Moscow State University. As a subject matter expert, Dr. Bragina has been featured in the NY Times and published numerous peer-reviewed publications on wildlife and habitat conservation methods.