About the Storm
The reintroduction of the new Eastern migratory population of Whooping Cranes suffered a major blow on February 2, 2007 when 17 juveniles were killed in a Florida storm event that also took the lives of 20 people in tornadoes. The birds were in a pen at the Chassahowitzka NWR to keep them safe from predators and aggressive older cranes when they were stunned by a lightning strike estimated to have hit 150 feel from the pen. Necropsy results showed they likely collapsed after being stunned, and drowned in rising water in their top-netted pen.
This was a very unusual storm, with 210 lightning strikes recorded within a 5-mile radius of the pen. Up until this event, no captive Whooping Crane anywhere had ever been killed by lightning.
One of the young cranes, #615, managed to escape the pen during the storm and was discovered alive on Feb. 3. Crane #615 was a symbol of hope to everyone dealing with the tragic losses from the storm. He survived winter but died the end of April. Cause of death is being investigated. The entire crane team and community felt the loss of the last surviving bird in the 2006 ultralight-led cohort.
North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible