By the 1940's the whooping crane was protected from hunting by the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929. In 1966 the Endangered Species Preservation Act was passed by Congress which was replaced by the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The whooping crane was included in both lists which helped in saving some of the remaining critical habitat that these birds required. Because of these new laws and other conservation efforts the Aransas-Buffalo flock had over 100 birds by 1986 and today they are up to 278, as of 2010-2011. A small flock of non-migratory birds has also returned to Louisiana, about 24 birds, and there is a small flock of about 20 non-migratory birds in Florida. There is also a group out of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin that is working to build a second migratory flock, just in case some disaster where to kill off the Aransas-Buffalo flock. They use an ultra-light airplane to lead the cranes between Wisconsin and Florida each year. The cranes pictured above are part of the Necedah flock. The top photo was taken in Northfield, MN where a pair stopped to rest and feed. The second photo was taken at Necedah where a pair flew in right above me as I was visiting the park one fall. The Necedah population consisted of 115 birds as of 2010-2011.All the crane population numbers come from the International Crane Foundation.