Remote Tracking of Endangered Whooping Cranes

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The only wild and self-sustaining population of whooping cranes migrates through the Central Flyway of North America, traveling between wintering grounds along the Gulf Coast of Texas and breeding grounds in Canada.  Over the past few decades, growth of this population has been positive and steady, but with only approximately 300 individuals, recovery remains tenuous.  In an effort to recognize and quantify potential barriers to recovery, USGS and other project partners have captured 57 cranes and marked them with Platform Transmitting Terminals with GPS capabilities. These transmitters use a satellite uplink and acquire multiple GPS locations per day over several years. The precision of the GPS data allows researchers to discover where birds reside during the breeding season in Canada, during the winter season in coastal Texas and other previously unknown areas, and at hundreds of stopover sites on public and private lands during migrations each spring and fall.  Analysis of these data will provide reliable scientific information to assist the Canadian Wildlife Service and USFWS in future management and recovery efforts for this species.

Author Name
Aaron Pearse
Author Email