During spring migration, RWBJV and partner staff conducted 24 aerial whooping crane surveys in the western basins. The flight survey period began at the end of February, a week ahead of schedule, due to an uncharacteristically early migration. During a flight in early April, four whooping cranes were observed on a Waterfowl Production Area, although they quickly continued their northward trek later that same day. This is the final year of 4-year long effort and the remaining flight surveys will be conducted in October and November 2016.
These Whooping Crane monitoring surveys are one small part of a larger USFWS Cooperative Recovery Initiative (CRI) project. The CRI was established to fund conservation projects that directly benefit endangered species on or near national wildlife refuges. The results of these efforts will be used to better inform future Whooping Crane conservation actions in the RWB.
The RWBJV would like to thank Alex Engel, Heather Johnson, Andrew Pierson, and Alyx Vogel, as well as the pilot crew and staff at Kearney Aviation Center, for assistance with the flight surveys. Additionally, Jeff Drahota and Matt Rabbe provided ground support. This project would not be possible without the support and dedication of our partners.