October 25, 2014

Injured whooping crane returned to the wild

A young whooping crane rejoins other birds. (PHOTO: ICF)

A young whooping crane rejoins other birds. (PHOTO: ICF)

A Wisconsin whooping crane is back in the wild, after having one of its toes amputated due to an injury. The young crane was among a dozen that flew last fall from the Badger State to a pair of refuges in Florida, as part of a 12-year-old effort to boost the population of the endangered bird in the eastern US.

According to the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, the crane was found limping on the outskirts of North Miami early last month. The bird was captured in late January and taken to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where veterinarians amputated its right middle toe. The crane was then taken to a national refuge in Meigs County Tennessee to be reconnected with a number of birds, including sandhill cranes. The crane was released last Saturday.

The Eastern Partnership said it was the first time in the 12 years of the migration program that an injured bird could rejoin other nesting animals after treatment. The crane was part of a group of six that left Horicon, and flew to a reserve in Florida’s Everglades.

Over 110 cranes still take part in the migration effort. The veterans reach Florida on their own, after being guided in their first years.