Reintroduction of Whooping Cranes to Southwest Louisiana

Project #: 15660  –   Updated: March 20, 2011

Project Summary

The southwest corner of Louisiana was once an important area of the whooping crane’s winter range and until the mid-twentieth century, the home of the United States’ last resident whooping crane colony. Due to their historical presence in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) plans to establish a self-sustaining whooping crane population on and around White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) located in Vermilion parish, in southwest Louisiana.

The goals of the project are to establish a self-sustaining whooping crane population on and around WLWCA. A ...

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Location (by county):
Vermilion Parish (LA)

Watersheds:
Mermentau

Congressional Districts:
LA District 03

Bird Conservation Regions:
Gulf Coastal Prairie

USFWS Regions:
Southeast Region

Project size:
70.0 acres

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area Yes

Full Project Description

The southwest corner of Louisiana was once an important area of the whooping crane’s winter range and until the mid-twentieth century, the home of the United States’ last resident whooping crane colony. Due to their historical presence in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) plans to establish a self-sustaining whooping crane population on and around White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) located in Vermilion parish, in southwest Louisiana.

The goals of the project are to establish a self-sustaining whooping crane population on and around WLWCA. A self-sustaining population is defined as a flock with 130 individuals and 30 nesting pairs that survive for 10 years without any additional restocking. Additionally, we hope our efforts will lead the species to be down-listed from an endangered species to a threatened species.

The first scheduled release is set for February 2011. For the first winter, 10 juvenile birds are tentatively set for release at WLWCA. Contingent upon the first year’s success, one to two cohorts (6-8 birds) will be released in subsequent years for ten years. Birds will be monitored closely throughout the duration of the project.

Project Assistance & Partnership Opportunities

Equipment

Funding

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

Conservation Mission
To establish a self-sustaining Whooping crane population in southwest Louisiana and ultimately lead the species to be down listed from and endangered species to a threatened species.

Primary goals:

Transfer Whooping cranes from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to Louisiana.
Progress:

The transfer of the birds is tentatively set for Feb 2011

Develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service defining responsibilities of each agency.
Progress:

Completed

Develop a detailed project proposal.
Progress:

Completed

Hold public hearings (Baton Rouge and Gueydan, LA) in accordance with USFWS proposed rule requirements.
Progress:

Completed September 2010

Build a soft release pen to hold Whooping cranes.
Progress:

Completed October 2010

Department of Interior Final Rule: Fish and Wildlife Service; 50 CFR Part 17 for the reintroduction.
Progress:

Final Rule should be published by Feb. 1, 2011

Monitor >3 times per week for the life of the birds. Questions to be answered by this research include, but are not limited to, food preference, sensitivity to disturbance etc.
Progress:

Research will begin immediately upon the birds arrival.

Moitor daily crane activities
Progress:

Daily monitoring efforts will be implemented by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Louisiana State University staff immediately upon the birds arrival.

Consistent with plans:

Species Recovery Plan
This project will align with strategies incorporated in the Whooping Crane Recovery Plan.

Targeted habitats:

    • Wetlands and Riparian Habitats
      • Marshes, Bogs and Emergent Wetlands

Targeted species:

  • Whooping Crane Grus americana

Actions

Project Actions
Reintroduce native species Show/Hide details

Assistance

Direct Funding
WCS Wildlife Action Opportunities Fund (Non-Governmental Organization) Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

Please describe your monitoring activity.

Yes, by the Whooping crane recovery team.

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Organization

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
(State Government)

Primary Contact

Carrie Salyers
LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
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Partners

  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
  • International Crane Foundation
  • United States Geological Survey-Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
  • Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species
  • Louisiana State University
  • Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation
  • Whooping Crane Recovery Team

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