May 2, 2009

Crane reintroduction effort struggles

Scientists are considering how best to reintroduce whooping cranes to the eastern United States, experts say.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday that a $10 million-plus effort to reintroduce the birds was dealt a blow recently when all but one pair of 12 cranes abandoned their nests.

Experts say they are using minnow nets, electronic monitoring, crane feces and dry ice to help them study the birds' behavior.

The International Crane Foundation said the rare cranes in inexplicably left their nests.

It's definitely disappointing, said the foundation's Joan Garland.

The newspaper noted that cranes have had poor reproduction since 2001.The current crane population in the eastern United States is 81, the newspaper reported.

The public-private reintroduction effort involves young cranes from Wisconsin being led to Florida by ultralight planes each fall. The cranes then return to Wisconsin in the spring, the newspaper reported.