The plan is to release and manage a flock of non-migrating whooping cranes at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area. Part of the conservation area was once the Vermillion Parish property which was the last known location of Louisiana whooping cranes back in 1950. The project is a cooperative effort between the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
The whooping crane is the most endangered crane in the world. There are currently approximately 400 whoopers in the wild. The majority of these comprise the only self-sustaining population in wild which migrate between Buffalo National Park in Canada and Aransas NWR in Texas. It is dangerous to have the entire whooping crane population in one flock, disease or natural disaster could wipe out the entire species, so multiple efforts are in progress to reduce the risk by providing new whooper flocks. These include a flock which migrates, with help from ultralite aircraft, between Necedah, NWR in Wisconsin and Chassahowitzka NWR and St. Marks NWR in Florida and now the non-migrating population efforts in Louisiana. The new Louisiana flock will be given the designation non-essential , experimental population which will give the organizations managing them more leeway, since they are in the endangered species list.
The cranes above are part of the eastern flock and they were photographed in Wisconsin.
For more information check out the news release from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.