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The remaining wild whooping cranes are now migrating from their nesting grounds in northern Canada to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas coast amid the greatest official concern ever shown over their fate. As the great birds winged southward, John L. Farley, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, last week invited two score wildlife experts and conservationists from both the U.S. and Canada to a Washington whooping crane conference.
Among them were W. Winston Mair, chief of the Canadian Wildlife Service, and a number of his assistants, Mr. Farley and a group of his men, the heads of numerous conservation organizations, George Douglass, director of the New Orleans zoo, who has two captive whoopers, and Fred Stark, director of the San Antonio zoo, who has the only other captive. All three of these birds have been rendered flightless through injuries.
Suggestions for perpetuating this gravely endangered species covered a wide range of ideas. At one extreme it was suggested that some of the young cranes be captured, possibly two pairs, and attempts be made to propagate them in captivity. It also was suggested that eggs might be taken and hatched under other species of cranes.
John J. Lynch, biologist of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who advanced the scheme for captive propagation, was opposed by a group, including John H. Baker, president of the National Audubon Society, who held that nothing should be done to disturb the wild flock. They felt that capturing any cranes would only endanger the whoopers as a wild species.
The conference reached no immediate decision, agreed instead on appointment of an international committee composed of one representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one Canadian Wildlife Service member and three other experts to explore the whooping crane problem. Farley said no moves to capture any of the cranes would be taken before the formation of the committee.
As their fate was being discussed the wild whoopers were arriving on the Texas coast singly and in family groups. Last year 28 cranes, including eight young, returned from the north. As of November 4, 17 cranes, including one young of this year, were back on the Aransas Refuge.
ELK FROM HEAVEN
FROM THE FLYWAYS
GDW—good duck weather
WASHINGTON: General state OG, and GDW forecast for coming week. 20,000 mallards and pintails on Skagit Game Range, and EG in surrounding areas. GF in Gray's Harbor region, with hunters averaging four birds per man. Snow geese still arriving on Skagit flats, and OVG with windy weather. Many birds using cornfields in Yakima Valley, and foggy mornings producing EG. Honker population excellent on Stratford Lake and Columbia River. Herb Schold of 122 West Heron St. in Aberdeen last week located excellent goose shooting but is walking to work as result. Driving toward Oyehut along beach he spotted flight of geese coming over low and fast. Schold jumped out, hid in dunes and in half hour had limit of geese but not much automobile. His car had sunk deep in sand, and rising tide completed dismal picture. Schold now eating goose but not driving.