Especially for those that have been following this effort to establish the eastern flock.
We regretfully announce the loss of the 18 juvenile Whooping cranes at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. The cranes died as a result of the storms that swept through central Florida during the evening and early morning of February 1 and 2.
The WCEP partners are in the initial stages of determining the cause of death of the 18 Whooping cranes, which comprised the ultralight-led 'Class of 2006' that arrived at the Chassahowitzka NWR in mid January. Following standard protocol, WCEP personnel checked on the cranes the evening of February 1. Due to the magnitude of the storm and the location of the pensite, personnel were unable to safely check on the cranes until the afternoon on Friday, February 2nd, at which time the birds were found dead in their enclosure.
While this is a setback for the Whooping crane reintroduction project, WCEP has faced challenges in the past and we plan to move forward with our effort to return this highly imperiled species to its historic range in eastern North America.
"My heart is aching both for the young birds we lost and for the dedicated people who have devoted so much of themselves to this project, only to see the lives of these cranes end in this devastating manner", said John Christian, co-chair of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. "These birds were the start of a new generation of life for the species, but we will recover and continue our work. Our thoughts also go out to those in central Florida who suffered personal losses as a result of these storms."
"We know this tragic loss will be as devastating to OM's supporters and those of the project and its partners as it is to us," said Joe Duff, OM's CEO and WCEP co-chair.
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