Whooping Crane in a pasture in Lake Wales
The remaining Whooping Cranes that survived an unsuccessful attempt to establish a non-migratory flock of these endangered birds may be moved from Polk and surrounding counties to Louisiana, according to a draft proposal issued this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The cranes, which have attracted birdwatchers to various locations around Lake Wales, are proposed to be relocated because they are in danger of dying out without reproducing.
Federal and state biologists were involved in the release of 289 birds between 1993 and 2005 in an attempt to create a non-migratory flock. Biologists ended releases because the project was unsuccessful.
Fourteen birds from the original releases survive.
The proposal to capture the birds and move them to Louisiana would allow them to join a non-migratory flock that has been re-established there to replace a similar flock that existed until the 1940s.
Federal wildlife officials are seeking comments on the proposal.