whooping crane reintroduction program
Historically, whooping cranes occurred in Louisiana in both a resident, non-migratory flock as well as migratory birds that wintered in the state. Conversion of prairies to mechanized agriculture and unregulated hunting lead to the decline of this species both nationally and at the state level. By 1945, only 2 cranes remained in Louisiana. In March of 1950, the lone Louisiana crane referred to as “Mac” was captured at White Lake and transported to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the central Texas coast.
For sixty years whooping cranes were absent from the Louisiana landscape until their reintroduction at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA) located in Vermilion Parish.
February 2011, marked the beginning of the LDWF whooping crane reintroduction program beginning with the release of 10 juvenile cranes. LDWF and project partners will continue to reintroduce a new cohort of birds each year.
The goal of the Louisiana project is to establish a self-sustaining whooping crane population on and around WLWCA. A self-sustaining population requires approximately 120 individuals and 30 productive pairs with those levels maintained for 10 years without additional restocking.