- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

AUSTWELL, Texas (AP) - Most of the more than 300 estimated whooping cranes that spent the winter in Texas have headed home to Canada.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expert Wade Harrell on Thursday announced officials estimate less than 20 percent of the population remains in Texas. Most of the rare cranes have reached or are en route to Wood Buffalo National Park.

The Aransas (uh-RAN’-zuhs) National Wildlife Refuge at Austwell in December had 304 whooping cranes. That compares to 257 birds a year earlier when experts switched from head counts to survey flights.

Four cranes died this year in Texas.

A carcass was discovered at a waterhole after an apparent bobcat attack. An injured bird taken to the San Antonio Zoo died in January. Two birds marked with radios died in February.






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