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Another crane, this one from 2005 class, is dead

The bird might have been killed by a predator.

By BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published February 23, 2007


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CHASSAHOWITZKA - The local whooping crane population has taken another hit.

The crane designated as 521 from the Class of 2005 was found dead this week in a remote area of Citrus County, said Liz Condie of Operation Migration.

A predator might have killed the female bird.

The loss comes a few weeks after 17 of the 18 birds comprising the Class of 2006 flock were killed during the devastating storms of Feb. 1 and 2. The last bird of that group, known as 615, remains in an enclosed pen at the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve in Marion County.

Crane 105 is in an adjacent pen there. That bird had to be moved to Halpata because he had flown repeatedly into the enclosure containing Peepers, another crane, at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Crane 105 had just lost his mate, and some surmised he was looking for another or for the free meal available in the park enclosure.

Meanwhile, the organizations comprising the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership are discussing what to do with the two birds at the preserve, Condie said.

"I know that everybody wants to know what we're going to do, and I'd like to see it resolved, too, but it's not just about what we're going to do for a bird," she said. "It's got to be what's best for all the birds."

The partners have discussed removing the Homosassa park's captive cranes from display so that they don't distract the wild cranes when they are in the area.

When the cranes are led from Halpata to their winter homes in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, they fly nearly over the park.

Condie said the partners realize that, as more birds are added to the flock each year, they are having to find new solutions.

"I guess we're a victim of our own success, in a way," she said. "The more birds we get down there, the more difficult it becomes. Different aspects start to present problems."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at 564-3621 or behrendt@sptimes.com.

[Last modified February 23, 2007, 06:35:34]


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