Whooping cranes led by ultralight aircraft from their summer home in Wisconsin have made it to Florida, the St. Petersburg Times reports. The cranes winter in and around Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf of Mexico and will return to Wisconsin and other northern areas on their own in the spring.
Researchers have been leading cranes to Florida every year since 2000. This year’s 17 cranes — the “class of 2007” — are part of an experimental flock that researchers are trying to establish in the eastern United States. (There is already an established flock in the west.)
Previous years’ cranes fly to and from Florida on their own, unassisted.
After the first few years of following the crane migration, every year that a new class of cranes comes to Florida and makes news, I wonder if I should still point it out on EcoFlorida. After all, you aren’t likely to see this experimental flock (there is another experimental flock of whooping cranes in Florida that doesn’t migrate), and even though it’s a fun story, it’s kind of almost like the story from the previous year.
However, I think the real key to what researchers are doing is helping re-establish whooping cranes in the eastern United States — and that it’s a good example for what could be done (and in some cases is being done) to help out other species. It would be great to see more endangered species being captive bred and introduced into the wild.
That’s what many people say when kittens are born.
When Florida panther kits are born, though, panther researchers have a lot of work to do to track the species, according to the News-Press.
The article points out that last year was a record for the number of kits born — 43 — even though it was also a record for the number of panther roadkills — 15.
More Florida panther stories from last year are in the article, too.
Man, this holiday season is keeping me waaaay too busy. I just wanted to post a quick update about the manatee status I recently blogged about. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to keep manatees on the state’s endangered species list, the Bradenton Herald and other sources reported. Apparently, Gov. Charlie Crist also wanted manatees to remain on the state endangered list (as they are on the federal endangered list).
Manatees, considered an endangered species by the federal government and the state of Florida, could lose their endangered status by the state today when the state wildlife agency votes, the Tampa Tribune and other sources report.
Back in September, Gov. Charlie Crist asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to hold off on voting whether to downlist the manatee to threatened status. Now the time to vote has rolled around again, and the FWC will consider a different classification for manatees.
Photo from U.S. Geological Survey
A friend asked me this week about sea turtle walks, and I had to tell her, sadly, that they are probably over because sea turtle nesting season is over.
Nests have been counted, and it looks as though loggerhead nests were waaaay down this year — almost half. However, researchers aren’t ready to say that means there’s a drop in the loggerhead sea turtle population, according to the Associated Press. Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida.
The good news is that other turtle species that commonly nest on Florida beaches — green and leatherback sea turtles — may have made a record number of nests this year. All right!
Today is the end of sea turtle nesting season, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reminds us, and nesting totals are still being counted. Even though Oct. 31 is the end of the nesting season, though, Marine Science Center (and other turtle rehab places around Florida, no doubt) has its hands full year-round.
Sea turtles made national news, too, as sea turtles have been washing up on shore because of winds. (And Tropical Storm Noel isn’t doing any favors, either.) Volunteers have been trying to usher them back into the surf.
Image from NOAA
Today’s Miami Herald has an article about the butterfly species that are disappearing from extreme southern Florida. The Miami blue butterfly, named as an endangered species that researchers are trying to repopulate through breeding, is just one of many, the article says. The main reason for their downfall is habitat loss.