by Lee Ann Linam, Texas Representative, Friends of the Wild Whoopers
On May 26, 2015, I represented Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) at the Whooping Crane Partnership meeting held at Texas Parks and Wildlife headquarters in Austin. Approximately 15 people representing Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Audubon Texas, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Friends of Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and the International Crane Foundation (ICF) were also in attendance.
This partnership was launched during the past year in response to discovery of a Whooping Crane carcass near a hunting blind in coastal Texas. Although that circumstance is still under investigation, the Executive Director of TPWD contacted Audubon Texas and asked that organization to spearhead a collaborative effort to increase public awareness about Whooping Cranes. This will serve as a follow-up to an outreach campaign that TPWD implemented in 2013 following shooting deaths of two Whooping Cranes in Texas in 2012-13. The partnership met once in February of this year to discuss initial ideas.
The goals of the partnership are to:
- Develop a stronger understanding of the education/outreach needs regarding the wintering Whooping Crane population in Texas
- Identify our greatest opportunities to achieve scalable conservation outcomes
- Develop and coordinate priorities for winter 2015 and 2016
- Improve our ability to leverage the capacity of the participating state, federal and NGO’s to support the work
- Develop a common approach to how we deploy initiatives
Several strategies were discussed at the meeting. A few, such as special mailings to Texas waterfowl and Sandhill Crane hunters, were identified as too expensive ; however, the group has begun to make progress on other ideas, including:
- TPWD Law Enforcement staff will place an announcement in the Fall 2015 Hunt Texas newsletter which goes out to subscribing sportsmen in Texas.
- TPWD Migratory Program staff will work to ensure that Whooping Crane identification information, along with an emphasis on the stiff penalties for violations, will continue to be featured in the Department’s annual hunting season publication, the Outdoor Annual.
- ICF and FOTWW representatives will contact hunting lodges reached in 2013 to see if they need additional posters or flyers depicting Whooping Crane identification.
- ICF and FOTWW will follow up on the 2013 project to place identification signs at boat launches to see if signs need to be installed or replaced.
- ICF will form an ad-hoc committee to design billboards to be placed in the Coastal Bend region of Texas to help citizens and hunters be more aware of the presence of Whooping Cranes. FOTWW will provide representation to the committee and funding matches for billboards.
- Audubon and Wade Harrell, FWS Whooping Crane Coordinator, will contact the FWS Migratory Bird program to see if information on Whooping Crane identification can be included in federal duck stamps that are mailed to hunters. TPWD staff will also present the issue at the Central Flyway meeting.
***** 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.