Whooping Crane spotted in Rice, Le Sueur counties 18 Oct 11

(AP) – The Department of Natural Resources reports rare whooping cranes have been sighted in Rice and Le Sueur counties.

DNR regional nongame wildlife specialist Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer calls the reports “exciting” since so few whooping cranes exist in the wild.

Gelvin-Innvaer says the whooping crane is a critically imperiled North American species. In 1940, there were only 16 whooping cranes left in the world. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership started a new flock in Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin and trained the birds to migrate along their normal route between Wisconsin and coastal Florida.

Gelvin-Innvaer says the pair recently sighted could be part of that flock.

Hunters are asked to be careful this fall, so they do not mistake a whooping crane for other migratory waterfowl.