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Whooping crane deaths under investigation

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources are investigating the suspicious deaths of three whooping cranes in south Georgia.

The cranes were found and reported by hunters in Calhoun County on Dec 30, 2010. The landowner reported the cranes had been in the area for a few weeks before they found them dead just before New Year's Eve.

Necropsies are expected to be completed in about two weeks.

The cranes are part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership effort to reintroduce whooping cranes into the eastern United States. These three cranes were released in October 2010 with seven other first-year birds in Wisconsin as part of the Direct Autumn Release program.

They generally follow other older whooping cranes and sometime sandhill cranes during the fall migration to find suitable wintering habitat.

They were banded and equipped with transmitters and were part of the ultralight aircraft-led migration effort.

Any information concerning the deaths of these cranes should be provided to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Terry Hasting at 404-763-7959 (ext. 233).