11/15/2012 13:52


After reading last week’s article about whooping cranes, a Freeport reader, Mary Ellen Baxter, shared some more up-to-date information in this email: “The last two years the Whooping Crane program has been carried out at Horicon Marsh. No longer at Necedah. The name of the group that trains the juveniles is called Operation Migration. I have been following the program closely for several years.

            “This year’s class that hatched at Patuxent, Maryland, was divided several ways to further insure stability in the program. Only six were designated for Operation Migration. They are currently on migration and arrived in Tennessee two days ago [November 8], but are stuck there because of strong winds. Unfortunately one of the six died last week after breaking a leg upon landing. She had surgery at the University of Illinois Veterinary School, but died on the table. The loss of a bird is tragic because it means one less to enter the wild.

            “I follow the migration at the website www.operationmigration.org. A camera is mounted in one of the ultralites during migration and you can fly along with the birds on the Crane Cam. I was with them on their latest flight on Thursday when they landed in Tennessee.” Thank you, Mary Ellen, for sharing.

            This program that is successfully restoring a whooping crane population had its beginnings in 1946 and continues to have strong support. Congress recognized the need to support the conservation of species that are endangered by passing the Endangered Species Act (ESA) signed into law on December 28, 1973. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOA) are responsible for administering the Act and developing regulations.

            The two services seek to change the Process for Identifying Habitat Essential to Species Protected Under the ESA in order to accelerate recovery of threatened and endangered species across the nation, while making it easier for people to coexist with these species. Public comments will be received before February 6, 2013. For more background about the proposal, visit online at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/improving_ESA/CH_Econ.html.     

            Written comments and information concerning this proposal must be submitted by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS-R9-ES-2011-0073]; or

U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS–R9–ES–2011–0073]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203. The Services will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov.

            The issues are complex. Now is the time to express your concerns about the regulations protecting habitat for endangered species. Search: Endangered Species Fact Sheets at nooa.gov and  fws.gov if you want to know more. 


Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer, 11/14/12 (for publication on 11/17/12 in the Journal Standard, Freeport, Illinois) Della can be reached at info@stephensonswcd.org