Continuing Texas Drought Threatens World's Only Self-Sustaining Population of Whooping Cranes

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"Crane Dance 7"

Bonnie recently wrote about the FAA Allowing Whooping Cranes To Resume Migration Flight to Florida. This was a feel-good story in which the FAA, charged with overseeing entrenched interests of airlines, decided they would let a flock of endangered Whoopers be escorted to Florida by people flying ultralight gliders.

See, not all big government is bad!

Continuing extreme drought in Texas and a Federal court case regarding Texas water rights has conservationists worried about the future of the Western Whooper flock, which is the only one that is self-sustaining. No ultralight escorts needed.

USDA and NOAA/Public Domain

As reported in the Island Breeze,

The 5-foot tall cranes that migrate in the eastern United States, largely between Wisconsin and Florida, are a separate flock from those migrating between Texas and northern Alberta, Canada. But the Wisconsin-based International Crane Foundation is now taking a more active role in Texas water policy and outreach efforts because of the threat to the species there, including testimony in a case in federal court involving water rights and cranes.

Lack of rain leads to other problems which affect the western flock.

Over the past year, rainfall at the Arkansas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas has totaled 15 inches. That's down 59 percent from normal, government figures show. Some coastal marshes are now saltier than the ocean, and toxic algae blooms known as red tide are washing along the coast.

Tags: Birds | Drought | Endangered Species | Texas