July 11, 2002

The last known whooping crane in the Rocky Mountains has not  been seen since last winter. I believe it extremely  unlikely that it is alive.

Thus, I consider the experimental nonessential Rocky Mountain whooping

crane population to be extinct (1975-2002).

There are currently about 90 non-migratory whooping cranes in Florida, and 5 whooping cranes in Wisconsin that last year were flown behind the ultralight, wintered in Florida and returned to Wisconsin on their own. Researchers are currently training 17 more whooping cranes in Wisconsin to follow the ultralight this fall.

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population numbered 173 in the spring of 2002. The nesting season in Canada looked a little below average due to a very late spring, with 50 nesting pairs hatching 33 chicks.  Seven cranes were still incubating eggs when we finished production surveys in late June. Probably at least 1/2 of the chicks won't survive to reach Aransas.  Since we've been loosing about 16 adults annually, I expect at best a break-even year for the population.

Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Aransas NWR
P.O. Box 100
Austwell, TX 77950
(361) 286-3559 Ext. 221
fax (361) 286-3722
E:mail:  tom_stehn@fws.gov