by Pam Bates
Luseland Museum, a museum in Luseland, Saskatchewan has added a preserved whooping crane to its new “nature preserve” exhibit.
Recent generous donations allowed the museum to expand and create the new exhibit, said founding member of the museum, Val Finley.
“We had the good fortune to find a whooper who had died of natural causes,” Finley said.
The whooper, lovingly named Gwenivere, was made into a specimen for the Museum. But the exhibit won’t be the first time the town has witnessed whooping cranes. When the only remaining wild flock was at its peak, the giant white birds stopped in Luseland on their migration between their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park and their wintering grounds on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Luseland is a small town with about 600 people located in Saskatchewan, 30 miles East of the Alberta border on Highway 31. It is located within the Central Flyway and back in the 1920’s and earlier, whooping cranes were seen migrating through the area.
Just 2-3 miles southeast of town is Shallow Lake, a slough that the whooping cranes seemed to like. It was primarily a resting place for most birds and reports were that whooping cranes did nest there until their population plummeted due to hunting and habitat loss.
Shallow Lake slough
Because of its early history with whooping cranes, in 2012, the Shallow Lake slough was considered a suitable habitat and possible location to reintroduce the species. Unfortunately, the Federal and Provincial governments decided to sell off the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration or PFRA pastures, in which Shallow Lake is situated, putting the plans on the shelf. But Finley says “since then, it appears the Federal and Provincial governments may be rethinking their actions, so we are keeping our fingers crossed”.
The Nature Preserve Unveiling
The Luseland museum’s expansion allowed for new exhibits to be displayed, including a nature display, rightfully named the “Nature Preserve”. The purpose of the “Nature Preserve” is for education and creating interest in wildlife. Like many nature exhibits, it displays natural grasses, trees and wildlife such as Canada Geese, Grouse, Hawks, a Fawn, baby antelope and various nests with eggs, just to name a few. All of the specimens were collected by the dedicated and hard working members of the museum and local residents.
But what makes the museum’s exhibit stand out the most is the 5 foot tall endangered crane in their exhibit.
“Gwenivere” is our star and we now have people dropping into the Museum and their first question is, “How is Gwenivere today?”, Finley said.
So, next time you are traveling on Highway 31, take some time to stop in Luseland and visit Gwenivere in her own natural habitat at the Luseland Museum.
Besides the wonderful educational, historical and nature exhibits, the people running the museum are friendly and more than happy to answer any questions or show you around. While you are there, tell them that Friends of the Wild Whoopers sent you.
***** 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.