In 1941, there were only 23 whooping cranes on the entire planet, pushed to the brink of extinction by overhunting and loss of habitat. Now, thanks to organizations including the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, their number is now in the hundreds.
The International Crane Foundation was founded in 1973, dedicated to preserving all 15 species of crane worldwide. The non-profit organization is dedicated to research, education, habitat protection, captive breeding and reintroduction of cranes into their natural habitat.
Near their headquarters in central Wisconsin, ICF is studying wild sandhill cranes to learn more about their habitats, how the population develops, and interactions between cranes and people. ICF is also a key partner in current efforts to return the whooping crane to the eastern United States. They support this work through captive breeding, monitoring, ecosystem research and education. ICF is also working to protect and restore water supplies and habitat for whooping cranes in other regions, including the wintering area for the last naturally occurring population along the Gulf Coast of Texas.
But the work of the foundation doesn’t stop on this continent. They’re also involved in crane preservation efforts in China, Africa, and Russia.
The work of ICF has earned them numerous accolades. Earlier this year, founder George Archibald was awarded the Audubon Society’s $100,000 lifetime conservation achievement prize, one of the richest environmental awards in the world.
The International Crane Foundation is open to the public from April 15-0ctober 30, where visitors can take a guided tour of the world’s cranes, hike nature trails, and browse nature themed items from around the world in their gift shop. They also offer school field trips and group tours.
Go to www.savingcranes.org for more information.