North Dakota outdoors briefs: Be on lookout for whooping cranes, Hunters should watch for wet roads and ground conditions
The whooping cranes that fly through North Dakota each spring are part of a population of about 500 birds that are on their way from their wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in northeast Alberta and southern Northwest Territories in Canada.
Be on lookout for whooping cranes
Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration, and sightings will increase as they make their way into and through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these endangered birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.
The whooping cranes that fly through North Dakota each spring are part of a population of about 500 birds that are on their way from their wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to their nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in northeast Alberta and southern Northwest Territories in Canada, a distance of about 2,500 miles.
Whoopers stand about 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of about 7 feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight, they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of two to three birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.
Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.
Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location and the birds' activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands that may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.
Whooping crane sightings should be reported at the following North Dakota locations:
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, (701) 848-2466.
Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, (701) 442-5474.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, (701) 328-6300.
Local game wardens across the state.
Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.
— N.D. Game and Fish Department
Be wary of wet ground conditions
The spring snow goose migration is in full swing, and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking hunters who participate in the spring season to be wary of muddy roads and saturated ground conditions when traveling to and from hunting locations.
Jeb Williams, Game and Fish Department wildlife chief, said goose hunters should maintain positive landowner/hunter relations and not drive on soft, muddy roads and trails. Hunters also should seek landowner permission before attempting any off-road travel on private land.
The spring light goose conservation order runs through May 10. More info: gf.nd.gov.
— N.D. Game and Fish Department