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Sandhill Cranes Returned
by Steve McCadams

 The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) announced today that sandhill cranes led by ultralight aircraft on last fall's longest human-led migration have returned to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin. The cranes' radio transmitter signals were simultaneously picked up by a crane biologist and volunteer around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27th. The experimental flock departed their wintering grounds at St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve in central Florida on February 25th, where they had been since landing there with ultralights last November.

 The sighting confirms the success of last year's sandhill crane experiment, and could pave the way for a similar experiment with endangered whooping cranes following the same migration route.

 Crane biologist Richard Urbanek tracked the ultralight cranes Friday evening to the same pre-migration training area where the specially-trained birds fledged last summer, and visually observed them Saturday morning. 

 Crane chicks traditionally follow their parents south to wintering grounds, and may also follow them back the next spring. These young cranes found their way back to their nesting grounds on their own, as have other ultralight study birds, after having been successfully led on the 40-day, 1,250-mile southern migration last fall by costumed-human surrogate 'parents' and ultralight aircraft.

For a Previous Story on 
These Sandhill Cranes
Click Here

Steve McCadams
 is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area and host of The Outdoor Channel's television series  IN-PURSUIT.