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Whooping cranes still don't reproduce enough to be sustainable

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  It's been 14 years since Wisconsin baby whooping cranes have migrated to Florida each winter to try and raise populations of the endangered bird in the Eastern U-S. However, experts say adult cranes have still not been able to produce enough chicks that survive as adults.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says almost 250 cranes have been released into the wild in Wisconsin since 2001 -- but only 95 are now living. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a group of public and private agencies, said a record 13 cranes hatched in the wild this past year -- but ten have died, apparently from predators. The partnership notes that no whooping crane re-introduction has ever truly succeeded, and all of them are fraught with challenges.

New strategies have been tried which increases baby cranes' natural time with adults. Supporters say it should take 3-to-5 years to see if the new efforts succeed. If not, it remains uncertain whether the project might be shut down. A similar crane reintroduction effort to the west has fared better. Officials say a connection between Alberta and Texas has resulted in 300 living cranes.