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Whooping Cranes Shot and Left in Oklahoma

January 19, 2022

Conservationists throughout North America are dismayed and angry to learn that four endangered Whopping Cranes were recently shot and left to waste in Oklahoma. Discovered in December the birds were on their way to wintering grounds at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The number of North America's best known endangered species dwindled to 21 birds in 1941. Six of these birds were non migratory that lived year round in the wetlands of Louisiana. They were all lost to hurricanes in the 1940s. The remaining 15 birds migrated 4000km to nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada's Northwest Territories. Through decades of conservation efforts, wild Whooping Cranes now number around 500 in the Aransas Wood Buffalo population. In addition, there are about 150 birds that have been reintroduced in Wisconsin and Louisiana, and another 150 or so in captivity bringing the total to about 800 whoopers left in the world.

These birds would have passed through Saskatchewan a few weeks prior to arriving in Oklahoma. Early efforts to monitor and protect Whooping Cranes were led by conservationists at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina. In recent years’ flocks of up to 100 Whooping Cranes have been observed in the Marcelin area north of Saskatoon. Fortunately, the general public and responsible hunters along the migratory route treasure and protect North America's tallest birds. It appears that the birds found in Oklahoma were shot with a shotgun which means the shooters were very close and should have known the birds were Whooping Cranes.

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For further information, contact:

Lorne Scott
Conservation Director, Nature Saskatchewan
Trustee, Whooping Crane Conservation Association
Phone: 306-695-2047


Brian Johns                  
Retired Whooping Crane Biologist
Trustee, Whooping Crane Conservation Association
Phone: 306-373-1228


Both Brian and Lorne are Directors of the Whooping Crane Conservation Association.

Photo credit: Kim Mann


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