Biologists: Whooping Cranes Produced Chick

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The Associated Press
Friday, June 23, 2006; 8:54 PM

NECEDAH, Wis. -- Biologists believe a pair of whooping cranes has produced a chick in central Wisconsin. If true, the chick would be the first to hatch in the wild in the eastern United States in more than 100 years.

"I'm ecstatic," said Larry Wargowsky, manager of the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

The two whooping cranes are nesting at the refuge as part of an effort to establish a second migratory flock of the endangered birds in North America.

Richard Urbanek, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has concluded the birds are tending to their nest as if they had produced a chick, maybe two.

He and others haven't seen a chick because they don't want to get too close to the nest and scare the parents, Wargowsky said. All signs, though, point to a successful hatching.

The chicks would show that cranes raised in captivity can reproduce in the wild, he said.

In another first, two whooping cranes conceived in the wild were hatched in captivity last month.

Biologists artificially incubated the eggs at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo and later in Maryland after determining the parent whoopers weren't diligently tending their nest.

The whooping crane, the tallest bird in North America, was near extinction in 1941, with only about 20 left. The migratory population in the eastern United States has now grown to more than 60 birds.

The only other migrating flock of whooping cranes has about 200 birds. They fly from Canada to spend winter on the Texas Gulf Coast.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com


© 2006 The Associated Press

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