Whooping Crane “Stopover Ponds/Wetlands” Plans

By Chester McConnell, Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Landowners and other land managers often contact Friends of the Wild Whoopers wanting to know how they can help endangered wild Whooping Cranes. Normally we discuss needs by phone or email. To simplify the process we have developed a brochure to provide information concerning one major and growing need.

This need is to properly manage existing ponds/wetlands or develop new ponds/wetlands so that they will attract Whooping Cranes. These amazing birds migrate 2,500 miles two times each year between their Canadian nesting grounds and their winter habitats on the Texas coast. During these long migrations they must stop to rest about 10 to 15 times.

While there are about a dozen prime stopover sites on wildlife refuges, migrating Whoopers mostly stopover on small ponds/wetlands on private farms just to rest overnight. Over the years thousands of stopover areas have been destroyed due to changes in land use. As the Whooper population continues to increase there is an increasing need for more stopover sites on private lands. The focus for these ponds/wetlands is in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

If you own land would you share a small amount with Whooping Cranes? And if you are not a landowner, possibly you could partner with one to help prepare a stopover pond. Ponds can be about any size from one-third acre and larger. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has cost share funding and technical support that will provide dollars to landowners needing assistance. It is also important to know that ponds developed or managed for Whooping Cranes also provide habitats for many other kinds of fish and wildlife.

Whooping Crane “Stopover Ponds/Wetlands” Plans

Interested persons are invited to check out our new “Stopover Ponds/Wetland” brochure. It lists features needed in stopover ponds, and provides diagrams to assist you with planning.

Whooping Crane “Stopover Ponds/Wetlands” Plans
Whooping Crane “Stopover Ponds/Wetlands” Plans

If you would like to download a printable PDF version of the Stopover Pond/Wetlands Plans, click here.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

***** 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.


Wood Buffalo National Park launches new Whooping Crane Iconic Experience

For the first time ever, visitors to Wood Buffalo KNP_24HNational Park will be able to see the endangered whooping crane in their last natural nesting ground through a new park-guided experience that offers visitors a chance to view these magnificent birds from the air and on the ground. Friends of the Wild Whoopers discussed the new experience with Wood Buffalo official Tim Gauthier who is excited about the park’s new effort. Gauthier explained that, “This experience is one of a series of Northern Iconic Experiences that have been created as part of the National Conservation Plan, which seeks new ways to help Canadians to connect to protected spaces and to highlight world-class conservation success stories.”

The Whooping Crane Iconic Experience is now accepting bookings for the spring 2015 launch of this new offer.  Visitors will be able to choose from helicopter or airplane overflights of the whooping crane nesting grounds and an option to hike into carefully situated blinds positioned in viewing distance of crane nests.

Visitors will also have a range of other unique Wood Buffalo experiences included in their package, such as a guided hike to Canada’s only Salt Plains, a landscape unique to Wood Buffalo National Park, a traditional local Aboriginal experience of storytelling, games, and country foods, and a visit to Pine Lake, a unique Caribbean-blue jewel in the heart of the boreal forest. While the cranes are the central focus of this experience, Park staff want to share the many wonders of Wood Buffalo with our visitors so they leave having truly experienced the majesty of Canada’s greatest protected wilderness.

The endangered whooping crane continues to make a remarkable recovery “back from the brink”. Visit their amazing summer nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park and experience first-hand this important conservation achievement.

For the first time ever, visitors will be guided to the secluded summer nesting grounds of the iconic whooping crane. Parks Canada is offering a package tour for those who would like to:

  • Learn more about the wild WBNP whooping crane flock and the conservation efforts that have kept their population on the rise
  • Fly over the nesting grounds in a fixed wing airplane or helicopter for a look at the whooping cranes in their unique nesting and rearing habitat with a Parks Canada guide
  • Land via helicopter in the nesting grounds to see the unique whooping crane habitat up close OR hike to a blind to hopefully view whooping cranes on their nest or see parents and fledglings forage for food
  • Go flightseeing over the Salt Plains, an ancient inland sea bed, and perhaps see non-nesting whooping cranes
  • Heli-hike to the Salt Plains largest salt mound for a taste
  • Play a role in the conservation of Whooping Cranes

All Whooping Crane Experience tours depart from Fort Smith, NT

You can pick your dates

Airplane Flyover Trip

  • June 1 – 4
  • August 17 – 20
  • August 24 – 27

Heli-Flight Trips – land in the nesting ground OR Heli-Hike Trips – hike to a whooping crane blind

  • May 25-May 28

*These dates are approximate. Please see the Whooping Crane Experience Guide for details and pricing information.

For further information on the Whooping Crane Iconic Experience, please contact the Wood Buffalo National Park Visitor Information Centre at (867) 872-7960.

To obtain more information or to schedule a media interview, please contact Tim Gauthier at 867-872-7957 or at tim.gauthier@pc.gc.ca.  Please note that visual support materials are available upon request. 

Additional details can also be found at the following link: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nt/woodbuffalo/ne/WC_Exp.aspx

***** 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.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo

Open Hunting Discussion – Whooping Crane Shot – Reward

Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) is providing you with an online discussion about the death of a whooping crane and what various interest believe about the situation.  The following discussion appears on Texas Hunting Forum – In The Field web page (see link at bottom of page). We appreciate permission from Texas Hunting Forum to post this on FOTWW’s web page. The discussion follows: 

Originally Posted By: huntwest-                                                               900x481_Flying-skills.jpg

27,500.00 for a bird! It is bad one got shot but that is ridiculous.


Originally Posted By: jeffbird- 

The county judge of Aransas County has testified under oath that the Whooping Cranes and refuge generate millions a year in tax revenue to Aransas County and the refuge is critical to the health of the bay and economy dependent on it which is worth tens of millions a year and hundreds of millions in property value.

So, no it is not a ridiculous amount in comparison.

If the Whooping Cranes were not there, the refuge would not be there. It would be just another stretch of coast with chemical plants, shopping strips, and some weekend homes and a bay comparable in recreation, hunting, fishing and seafood quality to Lavaca or Nueces Bay.

Given that the “hunter” is hiding, expect to see a vigorous prosecution if he is caught rather than him stepping up and owning what probably was an honest mistake. With the money coming to the table, will be interesting to see if one of his friends turns him out or he cracks from worrying about whether his friends will turn him in.

Originally Posted By: BOBO the Clown-

While it’s sad and a bad deal that someone found the need to kill an endangered bird… The whooping crane has no bearing on the Aransas Wildlife refuge by itself. The refuge was created by Roosevelt in 1937 as wintering grounds for ALL types of Migratory waterfowl. The whooping crane wasn’t put on the endangered list until 1968. If the whoopers where gone tomorrow it would be sad and bad deal but the refuge would live on.

That’s like saying the refuge was created for alligators and it should be closed now since gators where removed from the list in 1987.

a private group actually tried to sue state of TX over the death of 23 birds in 2008-2009 for issuing river water permits that they claimed caused the starvation of those birds.

It’s a tricky situation when you start putting birds before humans.

Aransas county isn’t support by the Whooping cranes. It’s supported by humans that hunt and fish there and those that pay propertery taxes there. That would include me on all three accounts.

Sad and bad deal that one of our own may have killed an endangered bird. I hope they fess up, and take thier punishment


Originally Posted By: jeffbird-


Respectfully, there are some significant errors in that post. I’ll leave it at saying my knowledge of the subject matter of your post is substantial, and I have the luxury of not guessing or speculating. The “bird” in my handle comes from my involvement in bird conservation including substantial involvement in some aspects of the subject matter.

First, the Endangered Species Act did not exist in the 1930’s. At that time and still today, Whooping Cranes fell within the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, through an agreement in 1916 known as a “convention” and adopted into law in 1918 in the US. The MBTA was, (and still is) an international treaty ratified between the United States, Mexico, and at that time Great Britain as the governing body for Canada. The MBTA still provides obligations of the three countries to protect birds that migrate between the countries and it is the basis for the hunting seasons and bag limits for migratory birds such as ducks, geese, and Sandhill Cranes. This act is still in effect today and prohibits the hunting, killing, injuring, or “take” of all migratory birds including Whooping Cranes, except those specifically authorized for hunting as game birds. This is why shooting small migratory birds such as warblers, orioles, and others is a federal offense in addition to a state offense, as it violates the international agreement between the governments of Canada, the US, and Mexico. Even if the ESA was repealed, Whooping Cranes are still protected by the MBTA and shooting one still would be a federal criminal offense.

The ESA came into existence in its first form in October 1966, known as the Endangered Species Preservation Act. The first list of protected species known as the “Class of ’67” included the Whooping Crane. The new act carried forward the same framework, definitions, and regulatory framework of the MBTA, but extended it to other species.

As a note of history, the creation and funding of Aransas NWR were done through executive orders of President Franklin Roosevelt, who visited the area in 1937 for vacation and fishing. When I was young in the ’60’s and ’70’s, there was a tarpon scale on the wall of the Tarpon Inn in Port Aransas from a fish he caught.

The MBTA included the regulation of migratory game birds such as ducks, geese, coots, and gallinules – and also Cranes, both Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, which were legally hunted before then. In 1937 the year of President Roosevelt’s visit for vacation, the MBTA closed hunting of Whooping Cranes under the international treaty. In 1938, the Aransas Refuge was purchased with funds allocated to protection of the migratory species covered by the act. The Aransas Refuge was specifically created and managed for the benefit of the Cranes. The other migratory birds, not just waterfowl, were and are incidental beneficiaries, but the Whooping Cranes were the driving force for the creation of the refuge. Ever since, the Aransas NWR has been managed for Whooping Cranes as its priority, everything else is secondary on management goals.

With respect to the case, over 300 different individuals, groups, businesses, and governmental entities were plaintiffs bringing the suit. Among the group were Aransas County, the Aransas County Navigation District, the City of Rockport, the City of Fulton, the Republican Party of Aransas County, the Democratic Party of Aransas County, fishing guides, hotel/motel owners, commercial seafood producers, and businesses dependent on tourism related to the Cranes and the health of the bay. The reason they cared was because the Whooping Cranes were dying because the bay ecosystem was collapsing, and they depend on it for their own economic survival.

Your impression of “putting birds before people” is actually more of putting people and some large industrial users upriver over the interests of the people who depend on the health of the bay for their livelihoods.

The County Judge of Aransas County testified on behalf of Aransas County that the Cranes and protection of the habitat upon which they depend are the underpinning of the economy of Aransas County. He testified that the threats posed by choking off of the water supply to feed the habitat upon which the Cranes depended posed an “existential threat” to the viability of the economy of the county.

The ecosystem which the Cranes rely upon is the same one which provides fish for recreation as well as for the commercial seafood industry. Commercial fishing guides were among the most ardent supporters of the case because they recognize that what is good for the Cranes is good for their business. If the Cranes die because the bay ecosystem dies upon which they rely, then all activities which rely on the same ecosystem will perish as well.

The challenges facing the Whooping Cranes here in Texas are a warning like the canary in the coal mine. Whether any politician has the fortitude to stand up and say it publicly, we are at the limits of the carrying capacity of the land/water in this state right now. Every single drop of water in every single lake and river is committed to someone, somehow. Many rivers now are primarily filled with treated waste water. The Trinity River downriver from Dallas is essentially 100% treated wastewater, which is used, treated again, and passed on down river again. All of our bay systems are under extreme stress. There are huge economic interests dependent on these bay systems for all manner of business, tourism, recreation, seafood production, and businesses that support those.

Not that it matters one whit, but to me, conservation should be non-partisan. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon did more to protect wildlife and the ecosystems upon which they exist than most other presidents added together. For those of a religious mind, if God created this, should we not respect and honor his creation?

Link to Texas Hunting Forum >>>  http://texashuntingforum.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/5582347/3

***** 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.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo


Rewards Offered For Information on Death of Whooping Crane in Aransas County, TX

by Friends of the Wild Whoopers

Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) will pay a reward not to exceed $10,000 to anyone who provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of any individuals who are responsible for the death of a Whooping Crane believed to have occurred during December 2014 in Aransas County, Texas. The partially decomposed body of the Whooping Crane was recovered by Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPDW) game wardens in Aransas County, Texas on Sunday, January 4, 2015. The dead crane was found near a duck blind located in the Aransas Bay system close to Sand Lake. A local hunting guide originally discovered the crane and contacted Game Wardens.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department areWhooper-single-wadeing-hr_076-021-300x215 continuing to seek information about the dead whooping crane.

The Service is also offering a reward in the amount of $2,500 and TPWD is contributing $1,000 for information about the death of the crane. According to the Service, several other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), are also offering up reward money for this effort.

The reward will be issued if the death of the whooping crane is determined to be a criminal act and the information provided leads to the criminal conviction of the person(s) responsible.

Necropsy results show that the whooping crane may have been handled after death.

Anyone with information about the whooping crane’s death is urged to come forward. Information can be provided to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Houston Office of Law Enforcement at (281) 876-1520, or Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). Callers may remain anonymous.

Whooping cranes are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  Penalties for harming or killing a crane can range up to a $100,000 fine and/or one year in federal prison.

Whooping cranes almost became extinct with only 16 remaining in the 1940s. Through concerted recovery efforts there are now an estimated 304 cranes in the population that winters in Texas. Standing about 5 feet tall, the whooping crane is the tallest flying bird in North America.

The purpose of the $10,000 reward is to encourage the public to share information they might have about criminal activities involving Whooping Cranes. Federal, State, Provincial, and other public law enforcement personnel, and criminal accomplices who turn “states” evidence to avoid prosecution, shall not be eligible for this reward. If more than one informant is key to solving a specific case, the reward will be equally divided between the informants.

Friends of the Wild Whoopers will continue to provide rewards for killing of whooping cranes in the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock in accordance with the goals in our mission statement. We invite individuals and other conservation organizations to join with us to establish a reward fund. All donor participants will be acknowledged unless they request to be anonymous. Unfortunately FOTWW’s bank account is very limited and we ask you to do your part.

Please contribute to our “Reward Fund” today by donating or joining  Friends of the Wild Whoopers. Click here.

You may also click on the “Donate” button below..

 ***** 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.

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo