Media Contact: Lizzie Condon, 218-371-9847
Linton, Ind. – We had a lot to celebrate this past year, and one of those things is Whooping Cranes! Whooping Cranes are one of the rarest bird species on earth, with only about 727 individuals in the global population.
This is an increase from a low of about 20 individuals in the 1940s and 50s. Through captive breeding and reintroduction programs, Whooping Cranes returned to Indiana in 2003. Every individual bird is important to the survival of the species. So far this winter, 44 individual Whooping Cranes have been detected by staff and volunteers in Indiana. Many of these individuals will continue their migration to states further south. But many will stay and spend the winter, especially around Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area near Linton. Goose Pond is a popular area for fishing, hunting, birding and other outdoor activities even in cold weather! When you visit Goose Pond, whether to hunt, bird or enjoy other activities, please keep an eye out for Whooping Cranes.
Unfortunately, one of the continuing threats to this species’ survival is illegal shootings. Historically, January is the time Whooping Crane shootings occur. In the last five years, nearly 40% of all Whooping Crane shootings have occurred in January. Since 2012, six Whooping Cranes were shot in the month of January including one in southeastern Indiana near Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in January 2017. You can help protect Whooping Cranes by spreading the word that the species is endangered. Harassing or killing Whooping Cranes is illegal and could result in significant fines.
Documented Whooping Crane shootings are generally unrelated to a hunting season. Hunters are some of our best conservationists. Their contributions to wetland protection have helped boost the Whooping Crane population. They are typically excellent naturalists and don’t shoot non-target species. Whether you hunt or not, you can help protect Whooping Cranes by reporting suspicious behavior such as a person trespassing onto private land that has Whooping Cranes or attempting to harm or harass the birds.
Please remember and share the following guidelines for viewing Whooping Cranes:
• If you encounter a Whooping Crane in the wild, please give them the respect and distance they need. Do not approach birds on foot within 200 yards; remain in your vehicle; do not approach in a vehicle any closer than 100 yards.
• Please remain concealed and do not speak loudly enough that the birds can hear you.
• If the cranes you are viewing change their behavior, such as going from feeding and relaxing to being alert, walking away, or flying away, you are too close to the cranes.
• Do not trespass on private property in an attempt to view or photograph Whooping Cranes.
We are very fortunate that the Endangered Whooping Cranes have selected southeast Indiana as their winter home. Enjoy the unique opportunity to observe these magnificent birds. At the same time, please help protect them and make their visit here this winter safe.
To learn more about Whooping Cranes and the other 14 crane species supported through the work of the International Crane Foundation, go to at www.savingcranes.org.