Reporting John Cody
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WOOD COUNTY, Wis. (CBS) — A pair of endangered whooping cranes decided to do it their way, and hatched a new chick for the endangered species which now numbers about 600.
As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, whooping cranes have recovered from a low of just 14 birds in the 1940s to about 600 now. But scientists are seeking to increase the population, including from a crane couple – code-numbered 12-02 and 19-04 – who had been laying infertile eggs for five years.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
To that end, biologists tried to sneak a fertile egg in their nest in central Wisconsin.
“We actually went into the nest assuming that these eggs of theirs were infertile, went in to replace their eggs, and the biologists that were there at the time happened to hear a peeping sound, and looked and saw this tiny little brown fuzzball that was the whooping crane chick,” said Joan Garland, an outreach coordinator with the International Crane Foundation.
This was the sixteenth chick born to crane couples that were taught to migrate by following ultra-light airplanes down to Florida.
This time, the chick will follow 12-02 and 19-04 south in the fall.
Garland says the entire Whooping Crane population rebounded from its near-extinction lows after protection and restoration efforts. The population is now 600, with 450 in the wild.
Garland says in central Wisconsin, there are another 14 eggs in whooping crane nests, which scientists are hoping will bolster the population still further.