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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) 2013-2014 Winter Whooping Crane Survey for the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population estimates there are 304 whooping cranes in the primary survey area. This includes an estimated 39 juveniles. A continued upward trend in whooping crane numbers over the last three years was observed, and is consistent with the long-term growth trend.

The primary survey area spans approximately 154,000 acres on and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Texas. Secondary areas (approximately 101,500 acres) on the Texas coast were surveyed to monitor expansion of the whooping crane’s winter range.

The precision of this year’s estimates was improved and achieved the target set in the protocol (coefficient of variation less than 10%). Improved precision is due to increased observer experience and refinement of methods.

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population is the only remaining wild flock of whooping cranes. This endangered bird nests in Canada and migrates 2,500 miles to winter on the Texas coast on and around the Aransas NWR. All of the whooping cranes alive today, both wild and captive, are descendants of the last 15 remaining cranes found wintering at the Aransas NWR in 1941.

Date:  March 17, 2014

Contact:  Dr. Wade Harrell, Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator, 361-286-3559