The whooping crane (Grus americana) is one of the world’s rarest birds and was listed as endangered in the United States under the Endangered Species Act in 1967.
Historically, whooping cranes were found in Louisiana as both a resident, non-migratory flock and migratory birds that wintered in the state. Conversion of the species’ prairie and wetland habitat to farmland and unregulated hunting led to the decline of this species both in Louisiana and across the nation. By 1945, only two whooping cranes remained in Louisiana.
In March of 1950, the last remaining whooping crane in Louisiana was captured at White Lake and transported to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the central Texas coast with the hopes that it would join the small migratory flock of whooping cranes there.
For 60 years, whooping cranes were absent from Louisiana’s landscape. However, in 2011, LDWF and partners began a reintroduction project, releasing 10 juvenile cranes at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area. LDWF and partners will continue to release a new cohort of birds every year as part of the overall recovery of the species.
If you are lucky enough to see a whooping crane, do not approach it, even in a vehicle, to avoid habituating the birds to human activity. If you share the sighting on social media, bird listservs, or other public sites, please do not share location information more specific than county or parish level.
In addition, report your sighting to help us track the cranes. We appreciate as much information as you are willing or able to provide.
If you witness poaching or any other illegal activity related to whooping cranes, report it to LDWF’s Law Enforcement Division at 800.442.2511.