Welcome Friends

Friends of the Wild Whoopers,  (a.k.a FOTWW) is a 501c3 nonprofit conservation organization whose mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat.

We would like to educate those who have an interest in protecting this beautiful American bird, as well as bringing you the latest news on the Whooper.

Make sure you subscribe to stay informed. If you would like to contribute in any way, we would love to hear from you. Donations are always welcome to help with our expenses.

 

News from Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Friends of the Wild Whoopers Inc. (FOTWW) was established in February 2014 with the main objective of raising public awareness about the only natural wild flock of whooping cranes and their habitat. As an organization, we have conducted site visits and performed habitat assessments at 6 Indian Reservations, 8 military bases, and 34 US Army Corp of Engineer lakes to ensure the stopover habitats for these cranes were suitable. In addition, we have shared photos, articles, reports, and stories related to whooping cranes and their habitat to increase awareness.

FOTWW is currently registered as a 501(c)(3) organization. However, due to health reasons, our Board has unanimously decided to shut down the organization by January 31, 2024. According to State law and Internal Revenue Code requirements, we are obligated to ensure that all remaining funds are utilized for charitable purposes.

We are pleased to announce that the Whooping Crane Conservation Association (WCCA) has been selected as the recipient of our remaining funds. Similar to FOTWW, WCCA is a volunteer-based organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the whooping crane population and their habitat. The funds will be used by WCCA to acquire land for the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population of wild whooping cranes along the Central Flyway.

We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to all of those who have supported and contributed to FOTWW over the past 10 years. Your support has been crucial in helping us achieve our goals. We hope that you will continue to support the only natural wild flock of whooping cranes and give your support to WCCA so that they may continue our mission.

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2023 Whooping Crane fall migration in full swing

Migration Underway

whooping crane migration
Whooping cranes near Saskatchewan. Photo by Muhammad Zain Ul Abideen ©2021

Migration of the only natural wild population of whooping cranes is in full swing. The Whooping Crane migration from Wood Buffalo to Aransas NWR is about 2,500 miles in length and can take as many as 50 days to complete. The flock is currently migrating through Saskatchewan, Nebraska, North Dakota and other states along the Central Flyway over the next several weeks. The Wildlife Fish and Game and Parks agencies along the flyway encourage the public to report any whooping crane sightings.

If you should observe a whooping crane as they migrate along the Central Flyway, please report them to the proper agencies. We have compiled a list of agencies and contact information below.

If you need help with identification, please click on our Whooper Identification page.

Canadian reports

Any sightings of Whooping Cranes in Canada:
Whooping Crane Hotline is 306-975-5595. That will get you to Wildlife Biologist John Conkin. Leave a detailed message for a callback.

Montana reports

Allison Begley
MT Fish, Wildlife, & Parks
1420 East Sixth Avenue
Helena, MT  59620
abegley@mt.gov
(406) 444-3370

Jim Hansen
MT Fish, Wildlife, & Parks
2300 Lake Elmo Drive
Billings, MT  59105
jihansen@mt.gov
(406) 247-2957

North Dakota

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, (701-848-2466)
Audubon, (701-442-5474)
National wildlife refuges
North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, (701-328-6300) or to local game wardens

South Dakota

Eileen Dowd Stukel: Eileen.dowdstukel@state.sd.us

Casey Heimerl: Casey.heimerl@state.sd.us

Natalie Gates: Natalie_Gates@fws.gov

Jessica Dowler: Jessica_Dowler@fws.gov

Nebraska

Nebraska Game and Parks (402-471-0641)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (308-379-5562)
The Crane Trust’s Whooper Watch hotline (888-399-2824)
Emails may be submitted to joel.jorgensen@nebraska.gov
Report Online, go to outdoornebraska.gov.

Kansas

Jason Wagner
jason.wagner@ks.gov
(620-793-3066)

Ed Miller
ed.miller@ks.gov
(620-331-6820)

Whooping Crane sightings at or near Quivira NWR should be reported to:
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge
620-486-2393
They can also be reported to this email:  quivira@fws.gov

Oklahoma

Sightings can be logged online here

Matt Fullerton
Endangered Species Biologist
(580-571-5820)

Mark Howery
Wildlife Diversity Biologist
(405-990-7259)

Texas

Texas Whooper Watch also has a project in I-Naturalist that is now fully functional. You can find it here. You can report sightings directly in I-Naturalist via your Smart Phone. This allows you to easily provide photo verification and your location.

If you are not a smart phone app user, you can still report via email: whoopingcranes@tpwd.state.tx.us or phone: (512-389-999). Please note that our primary interest is in reports from outside the core wintering range.

Keep your distance and why reporting is important

Should you see a whooping crane during migration, please do not get close or disturb it. Keep your distance and make a note of date, time, location, and what the whooping crane is doing. If the whooping crane is wearing bands or a transmitter, please note the color(s) and what leg(s) the bands are on.

whooping crane migration
Whooping cranes near Saskatchewan. Photo by Muhammad Zain Ul Abideen ©2021

You may wonder why the wild life agencies are asking for these sightings to be reported. The reports are very helpful in gathering data and information on when and where the whooping cranes stopover, what type of habitat they are choosing, and how many there are.

With just over 500 wild whooping cranes migrating along the Central Flyway, odds are low of seeing a wild whooping crane. However, FOTWW hopes that someone reading this article will be one of the lucky few. If you are, please report your sighting so that these agencies and other conservation groups, including FOTWW can continue helping these magnificent cranes.

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

fall migration
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
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Kim and Val’s annual fall whooping crane photo trip

Guest writer Val Mann.

Kim and Val’s annual fall whooping crane photo trip to north central Saskatchewan occurred last week.  The plan was to go the previous week, but the weather did not cooperate – major rain showers and thunderstorms made many grid roads impassable.

For the most part, the whooping cranes seen were quite far from the grid roads, usually in the middle of recently harvested fields.  When we counted all the cranes in our photos and eliminated possible repeat sightings, we saw and photographed at least 53 individual whooping cranes.  We saw more cranes but could not say they were new birds as the cranes tend to fly around the area.

For the most part, the weather cooperated; however, it was overcast and sprinkled a few times.  At one point, a beautiful rainbow appeared by a small group of cranes – however, the picture does not do the rainbow justice.  Although most of the cranes we saw were quite far in the distance, a highlight was when a small group of whooping cranes decided to relocate to be with a larger flock.  The cranes took off by running towards our car.  Wow!

FOTWW wants to thank Val for write up about their annual whooping crane photo trip. Val sent along a few photos of their annual whooping crane photo trip. We have posted them below and hope you enjoy them.

 

 

Whooping Crane
Two whooping cranes with a small flock of snow geese. ©2023 Val Mann
Whooping Crane
Whooping cranes taking flight towards us. ©2023 Val Mann
Whooping Crane
A rainbow near a distant group of cranes. ©2023 Val Mann

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

fall migration

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

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Four plead guilty in death of 4 whooping cranes

whooping cranes
Credit: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

In November of 2021, near Tom Steed Reservoir, hunters discovered one whooping crane with a shotgun wound. Unfortunately, the crane did not survive. After being notified, game wardens with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) discovered the remains of three more whooping cranes.

Joseph M. Roman, 43, of Altus, Justin M. Wine, 40, of Altus, Chanod M. Campbell, 32, of Gould, and Brian Lee Gollihare Jr., 35, of Hollis, were charged August 22, 2023, for the deaths of the four whooping cranes in November 2021. The men were hunting at Tom Steed Reservoir when they killed the four whooping cranes and attempted to hide the birds to cover up their crime.

All four men pleaded guilty and will each have to pay $17,000 in restitution and a $750 fine. Each hunter will also forfeit their shotguns and lose their hunting privileges in all 50 states for the next five years.

The whooping crane is one of the rarest birds in North America and are highly endangered. An FWS report from May 2023, estimates there are less than 600 total whooping cranes in the wild. They are protected under the Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.

To read more details about this case, go to 4 men plead guilty.

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

fall migration
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
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