Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


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Whooping Cranes Found Nesting in Texas

Residents urged to give endangered birds plenty of space.

For the first time in recent history, two pairs of endangered whooping cranes have been found nesting in Texas. The whooping cranes, part of a nonmigratory population originally introduced in Louisiana, are nesting on private land in Jefferson and Chambers counties.

The newcomers are part of a reintroduction program begun by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011. This designated nonessential population was introduced into historically occupied wetland habitats at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in southwest Louisiana. Since that time, the current population of around 73 birds has successfully nested and has hatched and reared chicks in a variety of wetland habitats, including rice fields, throughout Louisiana, on both private and public lands.

“We are excited to see this reintroduction effort show continued signs of success, with nesting now occurring in Texas,” says Amy Lueders, USFWS southwest regional director.

USFWS recently completed an agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service that provides private landowners in southeast Texas similar regulatory protections that landowners hosting whooping cranes in Louisiana receive and provides technical assistance to plan conservation actions that enhance wetland habitats for a variety of wildlife species.

“Conservation cannot happen in Texas and beyond without the support and dedication of our private landowners,” says Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “We look forward to our continued efforts with our vast network of partners, especially private landowners, to ensure whooping cranes, and all of our wildlife in Texas, thrive in the future.”

The public is reminded to keep at least 1,000 feet away from the birds and to respect private property by not trespassing to observe them.

Whooping cranes are one of the rarest birds in North America. The nonmigratory population now found nesting in Louisiana and Texas is different from the self-sustaining wild Aransas-Wood Buffalo Population. Those 500 whooping cranes breed in Canada’s largest national park — Wood Buffalo National Park — and spend the winter at or near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport.

 USFWS |  Earl Nottingham | TPWD

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