UPDATE as at July 10th 2012: see at the bottom of the page.
Central Flyway population in trouble
February 29, 2012
Excerpts from Jim Wiegand’s article in: EXAMINER.COM
“Since 2007 the installation of wind turbines has increased over 400% in the states of Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. These are very important migration stops for the Whopping Crane population.”
“In the 12 month period between July of 2008 and June 2009, 57 whooping cranes died, with 53 bodies that were never recovered.”
STEI’s comments: “Central Flyway” is the last remaining self-sustaining wild population of Whooping Cranes. It only numbers about 200 individuals. There are already over 2,000 wind turbines in this migration corridor, and their power lines – all of which are deadly to the great birds. Plans are to build many more windfarms across the flyway.
Jim Wiegand continues:
“This year there are dozens of missing cranes.”
“The Canada/US Whooping Crane Recovery Team wants to ensure that there is a stable population of at least 40 breeding bird couples and two other populations of 25 breeding couples before the status of the Whooping Crane is changed from “endangered species” to “ threatened species”.”
STEI comments: the only logical explanation to this proposed yet irresponsible down-listing is that the Recovery Team wishes to please the wind indutry, downgrading the species so it’ll be easier for the industry to obtain “take permits” (licenses to kill these birds unintentionally).
Much the same is being done for the California Condor, says Jim Wiegand:
“In order to be downlisted from Endangered to Threatened, The Recovery Goals of the California Condor Program are as follows:
– Maintenance of at least 2 wild populations
– Maintenance of one captive population
– Each population must:
-number at least 150 individuals
-must contain at least 15 breeding pairs
-be reproductively self sustaining
-have a positive rate of population growth.”
STEI’s comments: that’s only 45 breeding pairs in total, hardly a healthy population worth downgrading on the protection scale. Once thousands more wind turbines are built in and around Kern County, it’ll be too late to stop the extinction of these great birds.
UPDATE as at July 10th 2012:
“USFWS official reports put the flock size at the end of the previous winter of 2010-2011 at 279 cranes. In the winter of 2011-2012, on the aerial surveys in late January 2012, USFWS counted only 193 birds…”
Yet, ““the recent statements attributed to USFWS leave the public with the impression that the flock numbers are up,” says TAP legal counsel Jim Blackburn.”
Is the FWS covering up? Why did they change their survey and estimation methods, precisely this year? Read about it in the report from the Whooping Crane experts, who are critical of the FWS: http://thearansasproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012_0709_TAP_StateofFlock2012.pdf
STEI comments: The only sustainable population of whooping cranes in the wild have declined over the last 6 years concurrently with the invasion of their migration route, the Central Flyway, by over 2,000 wind turbines and their power lines. Nearly one hundred of these critically-endangered birds were lost this year, i.e. one third of that population. Yet the US Fish & Wildlife Service continue to approve more wind farms in that migration corridor. The extinction of the Whooping Crane in the wild won’t take long.