Rescued Whooping Crane Returns to Wisconsin Marsh

Endangered whooping crane rescued in Chicago suburb, returned to Wisconsin home by International Crane Foundation. Vital conservation effort for species with only 600 left in the wild.

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Wojciech Zylm
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Rescued Whooping Crane Returns to Wisconsin Marsh

Rescued Whooping Crane Returns to Wisconsin Marsh

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) successfully rescued a young whooping crane found alone in a Chicago suburb and returned it to its home at Horicon Marsh in Wisconsin on April 25, 2024. The female crane had become separated from its group during spring migration after wintering in west central Indiana.

ICF staff members Hillary Thompson and Alicia Ward captured the wayward crane in Wilmette, Illinois using a crane costume and the bird's favorite snack - green grapes. A veterinary exam determined the crane was healthy before it was transported back to Wisconsin and released at Horicon Marsh, outfitted with a solar-powered GPS tracking device.

The rescue is part of ICF's ongoing efforts to reestablish the endangered whooping crane population in the eastern United States. The organization rears young cranes and leads their migration using ultralight aircraft, teaching them the route between Wisconsin and wintering grounds.

Why this matters: With only around 600 whooping cranes remaining in the wild, every individual bird is vital to the species' survival. The successful rescue and return of this young crane to its native habitat constitutes a significant step in the conservation of this iconic species.

ICF will monitor the rescued crane's movements via the GPS tracker for the next three years. "It's always a good feeling to return a whooping crane to the wild and see it reunited with its fellow cranes," said Ward. "We'll be keeping a close eye on her to make sure she thrives back in her natural marsh habitat."

Key Takeaways

  • ICF rescued a young whooping crane in Chicago suburb, returned it to Horicon Marsh, WI.
  • Crane was separated from its group during spring migration after wintering in Indiana.
  • ICF rears young cranes and leads their migration using ultralight aircraft to reestablish population.
  • With only 600 whooping cranes left, every individual is vital to species' survival.
  • ICF will monitor the rescued crane's movements via GPS tracker for 3 years.