Why We Should Protect Cranes

Cranes are the most endangered family of birds in the world, with 11 of the world's 15 species at risk of extinction. None is rarer than the North American Whooping Crane. There’s a greater emphasis right now on protecting our environment and recognizing the burden on the environment of some of the policy decisions that we've made over the past many years. In addition, movies such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" about global warming and the documentary "March of the Penguins" shed light on environmental and species’ issues and raised awareness.

The International Crane Foundation, in Baraboo, Wisconsin has bred and guided whooping cranes on their migrations from the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to their breeding grounds in Florida's Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge. These guided migrations of young birds, led by a human pilot in an ultralight, captured the imagination of citizens and lawmakers along the route and around the country. Some of the people in Congress who first talked to me about the legislation, and are interested in joining our efforts, learned about the importance of protecting cranes from seeing clips of those flights. I think people who were really moved by this story have begun to understand how close to extinction whooping cranes were just a couple of decades ago, and how our practices have led to a significant revival of these majestic birds.