Bringing Back the Cranes
Comparing Ranges and Exploring Reintroduction

1. Get acquainted with the historic and current ranges of the Whooping crane:

Click here for enlarged view and map comparison

Historical Migration Route

Current Migration Routes

  • Locate the CURRENT summering and wintering areas for the main (Western) flock, which until 2001 was the world's only existing wild migratory population. Do you find Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada (summer nesting/breeding grounds) and Aransas NWR on the Texas Gulf Coast (winter feeding grounds)?
  • Locate the Whooping cranes' FORMER breeding and wintering areas.
  • Use an atlas or the refuge's map to locate the new (reintroduced) *Eastern flock's summer breeding territory at Necedah (say "Nuh SEED uh") NWR in Wisconsin. (It's near Baraboo, location of the International Crane Foundation.)
  • Use an atlas or the refuge's map to locate the new (reintroduced) Eastern flock's wintering home (not shown) at Chassahowitzka NWR on central Florida's Gulf Coast.

2. Discuss: What other states might have been chosen for the new flock's summering and wintering homes? How do you think Necedah and Chassohowitzka were chosen? (See below for an activity if you want to dig deeper.)

3. Draw an extension to include Canada on the classroom map you'll use for satellite tracking the Eastern flock this spring. Indicate the migration route for the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock (Western flock). With the help of sighting reports in our spring updates, you can loosely track the Western flock's migration by adding self-adhesive notes telling dates of sightings that we'll share in upcoming reports. Along with your satellite tracking, you may wish to chart facts to help you compare the migrations of the Western flock and the new Eastern flock.

Try This! Dig Deeper
This activity explores the process behind choosing Wisconsin and Florida as the summer and winter homes for the new Eastern reintoduced flock:

Try This! Discussion or Journaling Question

  • Even though they are members of an endangered species, the new Eastern flock is designated as a Nonessential Experimental Population (NEP) -- "experimental" because it will be isolated from other populations of whooping cranes, and "nonessential" because these whoopers will not be essential to the survival of the entire species. Under this NEP designation, the reintroduced whooping cranes will not receive full Endangered Species protection. This designation was made because it allows greater management flexibility. It also resolves some possible conflicts beween human activities and Whooping crane conservation. What possible conflicts can you think of? After discussion, state your own definition of Nonessential Experimental Population.
  • Read more about NEP
  • See the NEP region on the map above at right (blue area).

*The reintroduction of the new Eastern flock will be a 10- to 15-year effort. The goal is a flock of 125 birds in Wisconsin by 2020, including 25 nesting pairs.

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).