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Operation Migration Begins The 2015 Guided Whooping Crane Migration
by Pam Rotella
30 September 2015

ST. MARIE, WISCONSIN - Operation Migration began the 2015 guided whooping crane migration this morning, leading six young whooping cranes from White River Marsh to their first migration stop a few miles away. The cranes will learn a migration route to Florida by following ultra-light aircraft.

Joe Duff leads six whooping cranes on their first day of migration, 30 September 2015, photo by Pam Rotella
Operation Migration co-founder Joe Duff begins the 2015 guided whooping crane migration at White River Marsh with six whooping crane colts. Photo by Pam Rotella

Whooping cranes are among the most endangered species in North America. The ultra-light method is one of several reintroduction programs that attempts to establish alternative flocks to the one wild flock that migrates between Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.

The whooping crane reintroduction program at Horicon Marsh uses the "direct autumn release" or DAR method, which does not provide any migration guidance in the autumn. Rather, the Horicon whooping crane colts are released into the marsh and left to find their way south by following older cranes, usually sandhills.

Other reintroduction programs include the non-migratory flock in Louisiana and the parent-reared program at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

Reintroduction programs are coordinated by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a group that includes Operation Migration and the International Crane Foundation.

All original content including photographs © 2015 by Pam Rotella.