NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Operation Migration is asking for help from the public to buy remote tracking devices for young Whooping cranes. The group says these are critical in keeping track of the birds during the unassisted migration flights, using computer technology.
Operation Migration needs raise funds to acquire three devices that will be placed on three cranes in the Class of 2015. Three transmitters, each with three years of data services, costs $16,000.
Whooping Cranes once flew the skies over most of North America before habitat loss and unregulated hunting very nearly wiped out the species. In the 1940's there were only 15 Whooping Cranes in the world!
Since 1967 there has been a concerted international effort involving Canada and the United States to safeguard the species.
Operation Migration and our partners have succeeded in returning a migratory population of these endangered cranes to an area they were wiped out from more than a century ago. Still, fewer than 600 Whooping Cranes remain.
Each year, volunteers teach a newly-hatched generation of Whooping Cranes a migration route by guiding them on their first journey from Wisconsin to Florida with our small aircraft. In Florida they are released, and then, come spring, they migrate northward to Wisconsin on their own.
A small number of the birds are fitted with transmitters so that they can be tracked.