Whooping Crane Whooping Crane
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May 12, 2006
With almost all the whooping cranes now headed north, I thought I’d write a little about what happens at Aransas during the summer. Some activities at Aransas that might disturb the cranes are only permitted during the summer when the cranes are gone.

Only Allowed When Cranes Have Gone North
April 15 to October 15 is the official window for any jobs that disturb this endangered species. Look for the reason why:

  1. Currently underway is a seismic exploration for oil and gas that involves drilling thousands of holes in the ground and setting off small charges of dynamite underground. The vibrations received from the explosions enable geologists to figure out where deposits of natural gas are located down as far as 2 miles underground.
  2. Also, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon dredge the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway that runs through the crane area. This canal allows barges to carry chemical products up and down the coast from Texas all the way to Florida.

A Poor Winter for the Whoopers
This past winter has not been good for the whooping cranes. High quality food for the cranes was scarce much of the winter and 6 of the birds died. Currently there is actually 1 less bird in the flock than was present one year ago. Threats to the cranes are growing. Housing developments proposed to be built in the crane area threaten the wide open spaces that whooping cranes prefer and the habitat they need. Wind turbines to generate electric power from wind energy are being built in the corridor of the migrating whooping cranes. Whooping cranes may fly into the turbines themselves or be killed striking new power lines built to carry the electrical power to cities. Concerns about global warming and associated sea level rise that could ruin whooping crane marshes are not being addressed as the U.S. remains dependent on burning fossil fuels.

URGENT: Living in Harmony Within the Limits of Earth's Ecosystems
I was in college when the first Earth Day was initiated April 22, 1970 and people became increasingly aware of the need to live in harmony within the limits of the earth’s ecosystems. That same message is even more important today, but it is not being heard. It will have to be your generation that will need to promote conservation more than any other generation has before you. Only if conservation becomes a way of life can people use wisely the limited resources of the earth and protect wildlife. Without changes being made, numerous species of wildlife will go extinct, including whooping cranes that mean so much to so many people in North America.

Tom Stehn
Whooping Crane Coordinator


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