CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local foundation is doing its best this season to save an endangered species here in the Coastal Bend. Anna Turkett with the International Crane Foundation joined us on 3 News First edition with a look at the Whooping Cranes.

The International Crane Foundation, also called ICF, works across the world to conserve cranes and their habitat, and here in Texas the focus is on the last wild population of endangered Whooping Cranes. ICF focuses on scientific research and habitat preservation along with education and outreach across the Coastal Bend.

The Whooping Crane population is increasing and is close to 500 birds here in Texas, though there is a long way to go to recovery for the species. The Cranes breed at Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada, and winter here in Texas, so the birds were not actually here when the hurricane came through in August 2017.

ICF, and especially senior Whooping Crane Scientist Dr. Liz Smith had already been working on monitoring the birds’ behavior prior to the hurricane, so they were able to compare that data to 2018 when the birds returned to Texas, to find that the birds were thankfully not negatively impacted.

Some of the best ways to view Whooping Cranes in their natural habitat is by going on eco-tourism boat tours from the Rockport-Fulton and Port Aransas areas, or visiting the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll also have opportunities to view the birds at the Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas, February 21-24 through field trips to see the cranes with speakers from across North America, including the co-founder of the International Crane Foundation.

You can visit WhoopingCraneFestival.org for the full schedule and registration, for the Whooping Crane Festival, and SavingCranes.org for more information about the International Crane Foundation.

As always, we would like to thank the University of Texas Marine Science Institute and the Coastal Bend Audubon Society for putting this segment together each month.