- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Wilkinson Wildlife Management Area in eastern Nebraska has reopened after three whooping cranes left the area.

Officials with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission say the endangered birds came to the park March 25 and migrated north on Tuesday. The commission temporarily closed off the area to protect the cranes.

The birds’ total wild population of about 300 individuals migrates through Nebraska each fall and spring between wintering sites along the Texas coast and breeding areas in northern Alberta.

They are protected by state and federal endangered species laws. Penalties for killing, possessing or harassing whooping cranes may include fines of up to $50,000, up to a year in jail, or both.

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