whooping cranes

Robert Love Receives 2014 Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year

Release Date: 03/30/2015

Robert Love Receives 2014 Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year

March 30, 2015 -- Robert Love, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries division administrator, was honored Saturday by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation with the 2014 Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year.
 
Love, who manages the Coastal and Nongame Resources Division at LDWF, was recognized for leading the department’s biologist team involved with the reintroduction of the whooping crane to Louisiana.
 
“Every species recovery success LDWF has managed through the years has had a point person setting goals, directing personnel and handling the administrative duties so the biologist team can focus on the critical field work,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham at the ceremony in Baton Rouge. “Bob Love has taken that lead with whooping cranes and provided the vision to start and sustain the project.”
 
“The vision that awareness leads to appreciation which leads to protection is working; and I’m hopeful that our citizens can take pride in accomplishing yet another major conservation achievement, in restoring this long lost iconic and charismatic wildlife species,” said Love. “The vast majority of Louisianans respect, appreciate and support our wildlife resource management efforts.”
 
As Coastal and Nongame Resources Division administrator, Love oversees the division that includes LDWF’s Alligator Management Program, furbearer management including the Coast-wide Nutria Control Program, Louisiana’s Wildlife Action Plan, the Natural and Scenic Rivers Program, the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program,  Oil Spill Response and Natural Resource Damage Assessment, plus Coastal Operations including management of 10 wildlife management areas and refuges, and White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Vermilion Parish -- within the same geographic area in which the cranes had at one time thrived.
 
Love initially secured approval for the whooping crane reintroduction project to begin by proposing a funding model which has value-added component utilizing privately raised funds.  He also led efforts to define the entire boundary of Louisiana as a non-essential, experimental population status with the Department of Interior.  This designation allows the experimental population to be treated more like threatened, as opposed to endangered status.  It also allows much greater public acceptance of endangered species restoration, as these birds will not impact the normal lifestyle and activities on the Louisiana landscape.
 
Guiding staff biologists working with the experimental population of whooping cranes that have been in Louisiana since 2011, Love’s interaction with US Fish and Wildlife Services, the Whooping Crane Recovery Team, the International Crane Foundation, and the US Geological Survey Research Center in Patuxent, Maryland, and corporate partners have been key.
He established a regular team meeting management approach to the project, integrating staff field biologists, LSU research biologists, LDWF administration, a formal education program, public awareness and outreach program, maintenance staff, as well as veterinary and law enforcement staff to more fully utilize all available resources for derived benefits to the restoration effort.
 
Relative to project funding, Love has directed fundraising to gather resources, additional to state and federal dollars, to make the project financially stable during the formative years. Those fund raising efforts have brought in $1.5 million since 2011.
 
Love began his career in 1981 as a wildlife specialist in the Baton Rouge District VII office for the Wildlife Division.  Early in his career he worked with many game species, nuisance wildlife species and species of special concern, including alligators.
 
After working on all state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) throughout the Florida Parishes, he was promoted through the biologist ranks to serve as biologist program manager for nine years, responsible for purchasing more than 80,000 acres of conservation lands for WMAs and refuges. He served 18 years in the Wildlife Division before serving the last 15 years in what was previously known as the Fur and Refuge Division.
 
Love received his undergraduate degree in biology from Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois in 1975.  He received his master’s degree in wildlife management in 1981 from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.  His master’s degree thesis focused on the food habits of nutria in brackish marshes, with field work on the State Wildlife Refuge in Vermilion Parish.
 
Over his career, Love has been involved in wildlife groups including the Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, LSU Forestry Wildlife and Fisheries Alumni Association, The Wildlife Society, LA Professional Biologist Association and others. He was honored most recently with the Acadiana Sportsmen’s League 2013 Emeritus Award.
 
For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov .
 
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*Photo caption: (left to right) LDWF Secretary Robert Barham, Robert "Bob" Love, LWF President Barney Callahan.
 
 

Chevron Honored with 2014 Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award

Release Date: 03/30/2015

Chevron Honored with 2014 Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award

March 30, 2015 -- The Louisiana Wildlife Federation presented Chevron with the  Business Conservationist of the Year Award at Saturday’s banquet honoring recipients of the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards for 2014.
 
Chevron was recognized for support provided to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for stewardship, public education and awareness specific to the department’s whooping crane reintroduction project.
 
“The success of this species recovery project is largely dependent on raising public awareness and appreciation of the whooping cranes’ presence once again in our state, and educating our citizens and landowners about the significance of the project,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham at the ceremony in Baton Rouge. “Chevron grant funding to this end is vital in that phase of the project.”
 
“Chevron is proud to partner with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the Department and their work to reintroduce whooping cranes to Louisiana,” said Sakari Morrison, Chevron Gulf of Mexico General Manager of Public Affairs. “We recognize the importance of protecting biological diversity through programs like these that protect, sustain a viable habitat, and raise awareness and respect for the endangered species throughout our state and region.”  
 
In total, $400,000 in Chevron grant funding from 2012 through 2014 has provided for satellite transmitter equipment and associated communications costs for tracking the movement of the whooping cranes released from LDWF’s White Lake Wetland Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish. Biologists plot the birds’ movement, habitat selections and adaptive behavior as they adjust to life in the wild.
 
Grant funds have additionally been utilized for a public outreach media campaign designed to alert the public that the birds are now on the Louisiana landscape, they should be observed from a distance if spotted and LDWF should be notified if anyone witnesses cranes being harmed.  Billboards have been produced, as well as television and radio announcements, to deliver these messages.
 
A third key component funded by the Chevron donation provides lesson plans and classroom tools that have been made available to Louisiana middle and high school teachers through educational workshops. Teachers then deliver endangered species information to students to foster an appreciation for non-game species and awareness of the significance of LDWF’s and its partners’ efforts.
 
Additional project support was provided through Chevron’s joint promotional effort with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans that included home game wildlife awareness efforts for species found in Louisiana such as the alligator, the black bear and the whooping crane; and inclusion in the George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts 2014 “Student Art Competition” that featured the pelican, the whooping crane, the black bear and the bald cypress tree as images students could select as subjects for their artwork entries.
 
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation coordinated receipt and dispersal of grant funds for stewardship, public outreach and educational purposes.
 
The whooping crane, a very vulnerable species, was found in south Louisiana until their demise during the late 1800s and early 1900s when little conservation ethic was in existence and conversion of prairies and marsh lands to agriculture acreage became a trend. Since 2011, LDWF has soft released 64 isolation-reared, juvenile cranes provided by the US Geological Survey Research Center in Patuxent, Md., into rural southwest Louisiana, and 40 survive today.  Nesting pairs within that experimental population have produced the first eggs in the wild in over 70 years, but no fledglings have resulted as yet.
 
The recovery plan goal is for Louisiana to reach a subpopulation of 25-30 productive pairs, which translates to about 130 cranes in Louisiana. To learn more about Louisiana’s whooping crane population, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/information . To contribute to the whooping crane project or any LDWF initiative, go to the LWFF website at http://lawff.org .
 
For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov .

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*Photo caption -- (left to right) LDWF Secretary Robert Barham, Chevron Gulf of Mexico General Manager of Public Affairs Sakari Morrison, Chevron Gulf of Mexico Asset Development General Manager Marcia Houghton and LWF President Barney Callahan.
 
 

Zachary Richard Supporting Whooping Crane Public Awareness Effort

Release Date: 02/10/2015

 
Feb. 10, 2015 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ (LDWF) new whooping crane public awareness television message will feature Louisiana singer-songwriter and environmentalist Zachary Richard.
 
In the 30-second television message, scheduled for distribution later this month, Richard emphasizes the importance of the whooping cranes’ return to Louisiana and advises the public to observe the birds from a distance. The message includes a number to call if anyone sees cranes being harmed -- the toll free 1-800-442-2511 LDWF Enforcement Division’s Operation Game Thief hotline.
 
The television spot announcements were funded by Chevron as part of a grant administered by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation (LWFF). Chevron has provided financial support for the department’s whooping crane reintroduction project since 2011.
 
“Zachary Richard’s support for this project is greatly appreciated and we hope his message furthers the department’s efforts to protect whooping cranes, especially during these critical early years of the reintroduction project,” said Robert Love, LDWF Coastal and Nongame Resources Division administrator. “The Chevron grant funding has been vital in getting this message out to the public.”
 
The whooping crane, a very vulnerable species, was found in south Louisiana until their decline during the late 1800s and early 1900s when little conservation ethic was in existence and conversion of prairies and marsh lands to agriculture acreage became a trend. Since 2011, LDWF has soft released 64 isolation-reared, juvenile cranes provided by the US Geological Survey Research Center in Patuxent, Md., into rural southwest Louisiana, and 40 survive today. Cranes in the experimental population that have not survived include those lost to disease, predator species and six birds killed in random shooting incidents.
 
In 2014, a breeding pair in Louisiana produced eggs in the wild for the first time in over 60 years. No chicks resulted in 2014, but project biologists are optimistic for 2015 since the mating pair has matured.
 
The recovery plan goal is for Louisiana to reach a subpopulation of 25-30 productive pairs, which translates to about 130 cranes in Louisiana. This process could take 15 to 20 years. To learn more about Louisiana’s whooping crane population and view the Zachary Richard public awareness message, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes . To contribute to the whooping crane project or any LDWF initiative, go to the LWFF website at http://lawff.org .

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For additional information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov .

$10,000 Reward Offered for Information on Shooting of Endangered Whooping Crane in Vermilion Parish

Release Date: 01/21/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents are looking for leads regarding an endangered whooping crane that was found shot in Vermilion Parish.

The crane was found just south of Zaunbrecher Road and north of Gueydan on Nov. 2 with an apparent bullet wound to her upper left leg. The bird was transported to the LSU Vet School where she was euthanized on Nov. 3. A necropsy result received on Jan. 8 confirmed that the crane was shot in the leg.

Up to $10,000 is being offered by various groups for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the illegal killing of this whooping crane. LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation are each offering a reward of $1,000; The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering up to $5,000; and the department secured $3,000 from anonymous donors.

“Anytime we lose one of these cranes it sets us back in our efforts to restore the whooping crane population to its historic levels in Louisiana,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “These cranes were once native birds to Louisiana and the department would like to see them thrive again in the future with a sustainable population.”

Julia Breaux, Louisiana state director for The HSUS, said: “Killing a whooping crane is a serious crime. We are grateful to LDWF Enforcement Division agents for their critical work to stop the poaching of these birds, which undermines the agency’s efforts to restore and protect whooping cranes in Louisiana.  We urge anyone with information to step forward so the offender may be brought to justice.”

Anyone with information regarding this illegal killing should call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or use LDWF’s tip411 program.  To use the tip411 program, residents can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the “LADWF Tips” iPhone and Android app from the Apple App Store or Google Play free of charge. The hotline and the tip411 are monitored 24 hours a day. Upon request, informants can remain anonymous.

LDWF has released 64 whooping cranes since 2011 and are currently tracking 40 whooping cranes.  The crane in this case had been released in January of 2014 and represents the sixth whooping crane found shot since the birds were released.

The re-introduced whooping cranes came from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and they were placed in the coastal marsh of Vermilion Parish within LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA). This re-introduced population marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

LDWF is working cooperatively with the USFWS, USGS, the International Crane Foundation and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state. This non-migratory flock of whooping cranes is designated as a non-essential, experimental population but is protected under state law, the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Whooping cranes, the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, were first added to the federal status of an endangered species on March 11, 1967.

Historically, both resident and migratory populations of whooping cranes were present in Louisiana through the early 1940s. Whooping cranes inhabited the marshes and ridges of the state’s southwest Chenier Coastal Plain, as well as the uplands of prairie terrace habitat to the north. Within this area, whooping cranes used three major habitats: tall grass prairie, freshwater marsh, and brackish/salt marsh.  The Louisiana crane population was not able to withstand the pressure of human encroachment, primarily the conversion of nesting habitat to agricultural acreage, as well as hunting and specimen collection, which also occurred across North America. The last bird in southwest Louisiana was removed to a sanctuary in 1950.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2465.

Juvenile Whooping Cranes Released Into the Marsh at White Lake WCA

Release Date: 12/30/2014

crane in flight
crane in marsh

 
Dec. 30, 2014 – Fourteen juvenile whooping cranes were released into the wild Monday at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan. The juvenile cranes join 26 adults that are part of an experimental population being monitored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
 
The cranes were delivered to southwest Louisiana on Dec. 4 from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md.  LDWF is working cooperatively with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the International Crane Foundation to establish a non-migratory population in the state.
 
The whooping crane is protected under the federal Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts and by state law. Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance.
 
Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds similar to white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese.  However, a red head and black facial markings along with a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7-8 feet make them very distinctive.  In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.
 
Juvenile whooping cranes are primarily white with some cinnamon-brown feathers remaining on their body, primarily on their head and neck. Their wing tips are black like an adult, but they lack the red head.
 
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-2511 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 
 
Additional information on LDWF’s whooping crane project is available at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes. For more information, contact Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or 337-536-9400, ext. 4.

14 Juvenile Whooping Cranes Added to Louisiana’s Experimental Population

Release Date: 12/05/2014

14 Juvenile Whooping Cranes Added to Louisiana’s Experimental Population
14 Juvenile Whooping Cranes Added to Louisiana’s Experimental Population
14 Juvenile Whooping Cranes Added to Louisiana’s Experimental Population

Dec. 5, 2014 – Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) biologists have received a fifth cohort of juvenile whooping cranes at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan. The 14 young cranes received Dec. 4 add to the state’s resident population established through an LDWF species restoration project.

 “As we prepare to enter year five of this project, I encourage the public to continue to support our biologists in this effort by observing these birds from a distance and reporting any sightings of injured birds or anyone attempting to harm them in any way,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “We are fortunate to have a number of private landowners who have assisted us by working with our staff when the cranes roost on their property and I thank them for their participation.”

The White Lake WCA location in Vermilion Parish provides temporary shelter for the birds prior to their release into the wild. The cranes were raised at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., and the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, Wis., and flown to Louisiana by the Windway Capital Corporation. This month’s delivery increases the Louisiana whooping crane population to 40.

LDWF continues to work cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, ICF and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state. Project funding is derived from LDWF species restoration dedicated funds, federal funds and private/corporate donations which are facilitated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation. Major corporate funding support to date has been provided by Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

The whooping cranes in Louisiana are designated as a non-essential, experimental population (NEP) under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. This designation and its implementing regulation were developed to be more compatible with routine human activities in the reintroduction area. The initial cohort of birds received in 2011 marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.

Hunters, fishermen and anyone who spends time in the marshes and rice fields of Louisiana are reminded that whooping cranes in Louisiana are still protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be pursued, harassed, captured or killed.

Waterfowl hunters should be accustomed to seeing large-bodied, white birds with black wing-tips, such as white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, which must be distinguished from the legally-hunted snow geese.  Mature whooping cranes are equally identifiable as they stand five feet tall and have a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet. Easily identifiable characteristics of whooping cranes in flight include black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to report that information to LDWF’s Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-442-251 or using the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the "LADWF Tips" iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.  CitizenObserver, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender. 

For more information on the re-introduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana, please visit www.wlf.la.gov; or contact Bo Boehringer at bboehringer@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-5115.

 

Waterfowl Hunters Advised to Be Alert for Whooping Cranes

Release Date: 11/07/2014

Waterfowl Hunters Advised to Be Alert for Whooping Cranes

Nov. 7, 2014 -- As waterfowl hunters prepare for the start of waterfowl hunting season in November, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is reminding all hunters to be alert for whooping cranes in marshes and fields that contain legally hunted game birds.

LDWF’s whooping crane reintroduction program has released cranes into the wild from White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area each year since 2011. The birds have dispersed over time to locations that include east Texas, but there are whooping cranes situated in Acadia, Avoyelles, Rapides, Vermilion, Jefferson Davis, Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

Anyone encountering whooping cranes in the wild is advised to observe them from a distance and minimize any disturbance. Hunters are cautioned to positively identify their targets as game birds before shooting. Although whooping cranes in Louisiana are considered an “experimental, non-essential population” under the Endangered Species Act, they cannot be pursued, harassed, captured or killed and are fully protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Waterfowl hunters should be accustomed to seeing large-bodied, white birds with black wing-tips, such as white ibis, white pelicans, and wood storks, which must be distinguished from the legally-hunted snow geese.  Whooping cranes are equally identifiable as they stand an impressive 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of 7-8 feet. Easily identifiable characteristics of whooping cranes in flight include fully extended neck and legs, and black wing tips.

Hunters are encouraged to report whooping crane sightings to assist the department in tracking their movements. Location information can be reported to the White Lake WCA office at 337-536-9400, ext. 4 or szimorski@wlf.la.gov . 

LDWF also asks experienced hunters to take the time in the field to educate young hunters and improve their target identification skills to distinguish game birds from non-game birds.  A whooping crane sighting can add to the outdoor experience for outdoorsmen and women of all ages and hunter vigilance can assist the department’s efforts to restore this unique species in southwestern Louisiana.

Anyone witnessing whooping cranes being pursued, harassed, captured or killed is urged to call the LDWF Enforcement Division’s Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 to report what they’ve seen.

Chevron Recognized for Supporting Whooping Crane Re-introduction

Release Date: 08/08/2014

Chevron Recognized for Supporting Whooping Crane Re-introduction
Chevron Recognized for Supporting Whooping Crane Re-introduction

Aug. 8, 2014 -- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation (LWFF) recognized Chevron on Aug. 7 for three years of financial support provided for the department’s whooping crane reintroduction project which began in 2011.
 
In a ceremony at Thursday’s Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton Rouge, commission members, department staff and meeting attendees were briefed on the value of the $400,000 in Chevron grant funding and all that it has provided from 2012 through 2014.
 
“Chevron chose to make a social investment in southwest Louisiana and this project presented an ideal opportunity,” said Robert Love, LDWF Coastal and Nongame Resources Division administrator. “Re-establishing the whooping crane within Louisiana’s ecosystem involves not only specialized research tools but a lot of people power and teamwork. Success and sustainability also requires raising public awareness and appreciation of the birds’ presence and educating our young citizens, as well as our farmers, on the importance having of this iconic and charismatic species back on the landscape. The Chevron grant funding was vital in each of these project components.”
 
“Chevron Gulf of Mexico recognizes the importance of protecting biological diversity – the rich variety of life on Earth, its ecosystems and species, and the ecological processes that support them,” said Sakari Morrison, Chevron Gulf of Mexico General Manager of Public Affairs. “For this reason, we are a proud and active partner in support of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the Department and their work to reintroduce whooping cranes to Louisiana and educate the public on the importance of wildlife protection.”
 
The grant funding has provided for satellite transmitter equipment and associated communications costs for tracking the movement of the whooping cranes released from LDWF’s White Lake Wetland Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish. Biologists plot the birds’ movement, habitat selections and adaptive behavior as they adjust to life in the wild.
 
Supporting LDWF’s efforts, the LWFF has coordinated receipt and dispersal of grant funds for stewardship, public outreach and educational purposes. Kell McInnis, LWFF executive director, presented a signed print of the Chris Davis’ wildlife portrait “Taking Flight” to Morrison in appreciation of the corporate support provided for the project.
Grant funds have additionally been utilized for a public outreach media campaign designed to alert the public that the birds are now on the Louisiana landscape, they should be observed from a distance if spotted and LDWF should be notified if anyone witnesses cranes being harmed.  Billboards have been produced, as well as television and radio announcements, to deliver these messages.
 
A third key component funded by the Chevron donation provides lesson plans and classroom tools that have been made available to Louisiana middle and high school teachers through educational workshops. Teachers then deliver endangered species information to students to foster an appreciation for non-game species and awareness of the significance of LDWF’s and its partners’ efforts.
 
The whooping crane, a very vulnerable species, was found in south Louisiana until their demise during the late 1800s and early 1900s when little conservation ethic was in existence and conversion of prairies and marsh lands to agriculture acreage became a trend. Since 2011, LDWF has soft released 50 isolation-reared, juvenile cranes provided by the US Geological Survey Research Center in Patuxent, Md., into rural southwest Louisiana, and 29 survive today.  Nesting pairs within that experimental population have produced the first eggs in the wild in over 70 years, but no fledglings have resulted as yet.
 
The recovery plan goal is for Louisiana to reach a subpopulation of 25-30 productive pairs, which translates to about 130 cranes in Louisiana. This process could take 15 to 20 years. To learn more about Louisiana’s whooping crane population, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/information . To contribute to the whooping crane project or any LDWF initiative, go to the LWFF website at http://lawff.org .
 
For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov .
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*photo 1 – (left to right) La. Wildlife & Fisheries Foundation Executive Director Kell McInnis, Chevron Gulf of Mexico General Manager of Public Affairs Sakari Morrison, LDWF Secretary Robert Barham and LDWF Coastal and Nongame Division Administrator Bob Love gather after Aug. 7 LWF Commission meeting recognition for Chevron’s contributions to Louisiana’s whooping crane re-introduction project.
 
*photo 2 – LDWF’s whooping crane recovery team gather with Chevron’s Sakari Morrison (front row center) following Aug. 7 LWF Commission meeting.  Team members (front row, left to right) Dr. Sammy King, USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at LSU Ag Center; Sara Zimorski, LDWF Project Biologist; Morrison; Venise Ortego, La. Environmental Education Commission Coordinator; Phillip Vasseur, LSU Ag Center Research Associate; (back row, left to right) Buddy Baker, LDWF Coastal and Nongame Division Biologist Director ; Kell McInnis, La. Wildlife & Fisheries Foundation Executive Director; Charles Smith, LSU Ag Center Research Associate; Bob Love, LDWF Coastal and Nongame Division Administrator; and Chad Gaspard, LDWF Technician.
 

Whooping Crane Eggs Produced in March Yield Vital Research Data, But No Hatchlings

Release Date: 05/02/2014

*LDWF PHOTO CAPTION – Infertile whooping crane eggs recovered this week from nest site in Louisiana.

 

May 2, 2014 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced today that the first eggs produced by Louisiana’s experimental whooping crane population will not result in hatchlings this year, a result most experts had anticipated.

The young pair of adult cranes, nesting in a crawfish pond on the northern end of the Cajun prairie, has been under observation by project biologists since eggs were spotted in their nest in March.  The 30-day incubation period has passed for what would have been the first whooping crane chicks hatched on the Louisiana landscape in over 75 years.  Whooping cranes are not expected to become successful nesters until they reach four to six years of age, and only a few of Louisiana’s whooping cranes will soon be four years old.  LDWF has collected the eggs and has determined they were not fertile.

“Although this nest did not produce chicks, it is still a very positive and progressive step for the reintroduction project for many reasons,” said Robert Love, LDWF Coastal and Non-game Resources Division administrator.  “This seems to be a strongly bonded pair, which produced two normal eggs, early in the spring and incubated them full term.”

LDWF biologists collected vital data on the cranes’ nest building schedule, nest attentiveness and their reactions to nearby farming activity. Throughout the process, biologists kept the farmer and landowner informed about the cranes’ activity.

The state’s whooping crane reintroduction project began with the release of an initial cohort of juvenile cranes in 2011 at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish. There are three bonded pairs among the 30 surviving birds that are reaching maturity.

“From the beginning of this reintroduction, the department realized how vulnerable this species is to human harm, and knew one of the challenges would be to elevate the public’s respect for this wildlife species, through a stepwise process of awareness, appreciation and protection,” said Love. “That education and outreach challenge is being addressed through corporate sponsorship.”

The largest corporate supporter for the project is Chevron.

“Chevron believes that environmental stewardship is vital to sustainable economic progress and human development not only here in south Louisiana but throughout the world,” said Chevron Public Affairs General Manager Sakari Morrison. “The success of the whooping crane reintroduction program is encouraging for our area’s biodiversity goals but it’s also encouraging because it shows what can be accomplished through public-private partnerships. We look forward to continuing our support of the whooping cranes with LDWF.”

Team partners who assisted in bringing juvenile cranes to Louisiana annually since 2011 include the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, the International Crane Foundation, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes to learn more about whooping cranes in Louisiana.

For information on LDWF’s whooping crane reintroduction project, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 orbboehringer@wlf.la.gov.

*LDWF PHOTO CAPTION – Infertile whooping crane eggs recovered this week from nest site in Louisiana.

LDWF Announces Historic Moment for State’s Wild Whooping Crane Population at North American Crane Workshop

Release Date: 04/15/2014

LDWF Announces Historic Moment for State’s Wild Whooping Crane Population at North American Crane Workshop
LDWF Announces Historic Moment for State’s Wild Whooping Crane Population at North American Crane Workshop
LDWF Announces Historic Moment for State’s Wild Whooping Crane Population at North American Crane Workshop

(April 15, 2014) – The foremost crane experts in North America heard encouraging news for Louisiana’s experimental whooping crane population when news of eggs produced by a mating pair was announced at the 13th North American Crane Workshop in Lafayette, La.
 
“I am proud today to announce to you that our small population of whooping cranes is adjusting well to life in the wild and a mating pair has produced eggs in the wild for the first time in over 70 years on the Louisiana landscape,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Robert Barham. “Our biologist team and partners including the International Crane Foundation, the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and project funding donors have all made this moment possible.”
 
Barham and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne welcomed the workshop group on Tuesday morning at Hotel Acadiana.
 
“Thanks to the completion of our state birding guide—published through my office in partnership with the American Birding Association and the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area -- Louisiana has become a strong competitor for birding-related tourism,” said Dardenne. “Similarly, conservation efforts such as the reintroduction of the whooping crane to Louisiana since 2011 are positive steps toward ecotourism in our state.”
 
The state whooping crane reintroduction project began with the release of an initial cohort of juvenile cranes in 2011 at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish. The single nest with eggs, on the northern end of the Cajun prairie, remains under observation by project biologists.
 
Including subsequent cohorts, 50 whooping cranes have been released in Louisiana. Thirty of those birds have survived. Some have been lost to predators, some to naturally occurring health problems, and five in total have been confirmed as killed or wounded in shooting incidents.
 
The North American Crane Working Group, meeting this week in southwest Louisiana, is being briefed on Louisiana’s whooping crane reintroduction, the wild Aransas/Wood Buffalo whooping crane flock, the technology utilized in crane research and challenges to crane survival.
To learn more about LDWF’s whooping crane re-population project, visit http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes .

For information LDWF’s whooping crane reintroduction project, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov. For more information on the workshop, call Sammy King at 225-578-4179 or sking@agcenter.lsu.edu .
 
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Photo 1: Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne welcomes North American Crane Workshop attendees to Lafayette.
Photo 2: LDWF Secretary Robert Barham announces news of the first whooping crane eggs produced in the wild in Louisiana in 70 years.
Photo 3: Whooping crane nest with eggs on the northern end of Louisiana’s Cajun prairie.

 

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