13% of Florida’s whooping cranes killed in weekend storms
February 5, 2007
17 whooping cranes were killed in severe storms in Florida according to a report from the Associated Press. The whooping crane, the tallest bird in North America, is one of North America’s most endangered birds with a wild population of less than 360. Until the recent storms, Florida was home to a non-migratory population of 53 and a migratory population of 83, according to the Whooping Crane Conservation Association.
The Associated Press reports that 18 whooping cranes were being kept in an enclosure at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge near Crystal River, Florida, but 17 were killed in the storms that hit the area beginning Thursday night
Whooping crane image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Whooping crane populations have rebounded since their low point in 1941 when only 20 birds remained. Today the largest population migrates between Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada and Arkansas. It consists of 237 individuals according to the Whooping Crane Conservation Association. Globally there are 501 whooping cranes, 356 in the wild and 145 captive, following the recent storm toll.
Never common, the Whooping Crane is endangered mainly due to habitat loss.