Migrating whooping crane at refuge after Ohio stop

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COLUMBUS – A well-photographed, juvenile whooping crane made an unexpected stop in Morgan County in early May on its return migration to Wisconsin, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The crane was part of a flock receiving national media attention as part of a reintroduction program that utilized an ultralight aircraft to assist its fall migration to Florida.

Needed help. One of the cranes, tagged as Number 9, landed near Bristol, Ohio, and was transported to its final destination near Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin by biologists with the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Wildlife authorities decided to capture the crane and return it to Wisconsin for fear that the bird would not find its way back unassisted.

The whooping crane had spent the winter with other flock mates at the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

Journey. Most of the other cranes from the 2002 ultralight-led migration arrived unassisted at the Wisconsin wildlife refuge March 13, completing a 13-day, 1,200-mile migration journey.

Crane Number 9 was east of the migration route anticipated by wildlife biologists and was observed near North Wilkesboro, N.C., April 16; near Radford, Va., April 29; and near Buckhannon, W.Va., May 1, before stopping in Morgan County.

Project. The reintroduction project is being conducted by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a group of non-profit organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The goal is to establish a migratory flock of whooping cranes that breed in Wisconsin and migrate to Florida for the winter.

Ohioans can expect an increase in whooping crane sightings as the project unfolds and a wild migratory population becomes established, according to wildlife biologists.

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