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North Dakotans asked to report whooping crane sightings

The endangered birds are expected to fly through North Dakota over the next few weeks as they migrate from Canada to Texas.

Every year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put out a call for people to report sightings of whooping cranes, like this pair spotted near Linton on March 29, 2018.
Every year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put out a call for people to report sightings of whooping cranes, like this pair spotted near Linton on March 29, 2018.
Contributed / North Dakota Game and Fish
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FARGO — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking people to report whooping crane sightings as the endangered birds pass through the state this fall.

About 500 whooping cranes are expected to migrate through North Dakota over the next several weeks on a 2,500-mile journey from their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to their wintering grounds in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, Game and Fish officials said in a news release.

Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers and identify times and migration routes.

Whooping cranes are about 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of 7 feet. They are bright white with black wing tips that are only visible when the wings are spread.

The cranes migrate alone or in groups of two to three and may be with sandhill cranes. Other white birds such as snow geese, swans, egrets and pelicans are often mistaken for whooping cranes.

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Anyone who spots one of the birds should not disturb them but record the date, time and location. Observers should also look for and report colored bands, which may be on one or both legs.

Whooping crane sightings can be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, 701-848-2466; Audubon, 701-442-5474; the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300; or to local game wardens.

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