Whooping crane numbers (historical context)

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Mar 4 13:11:08 CST 2005

Dear All,
     I was asked if I could give some other numbers to put the present numbers of whooping cranes in an historical context.  So here are some numbers I came up with.  These are total world population figures (wild plus captive):

   1941----20-22 (historic low)**

      The number in 1941** (the historic low) is usually given as 15-16, but there were also still a handful of survivors in the Louisiana non-migratory flock (even after the hurricane of 1940).  That flock had only a single survivor by 1950.  Note that population numbers didn't really begin to recover until after the whooping crane was declared an endangered species in 1967 (and Patuxent began its captive breeding program).

      The actual peak number of whoopers (around 500) would have been late spring 2004, but due to high chick mortality rates, they aren't officially included in the total until after they migrate and arrive in Texas late in the year.  In an even broader context, the total population was probably around 1,500 whoopers back in the 1850's, but perhaps they will actually make it back to those population levels by the year 2050 (if not before?).  And maybe laboratories will have recreated a flock of passenger pigeons by then as well.  Who knows?
               Ken Kinman

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