A pair of endangered whooping cranes have taken up residence in a south-central Nebraska wildlife area, closing the area temporarily. (Courtesy of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)
LINCOLN — A pair of migrating whooping cranes has prompted the temporary closure of Kissinger Wildlife Management Area, north of Fairfield, Nebraska.
The closure is standard procedure for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission when endangered whooping cranes take up temporary residence on property owned or managed by the agency.
The closure will be lifted once the cranes have left the area, the agency said Wednesday in a press release.
“This temporary closure is intended to not only protect whooping cranes, but to also protect the public from accidentally disturbing or harming the birds, which is illegal under federal and state law,” said Alicia Hardin, the commission’s wildlife division administrator.
Kissinger WMA is about 1 mile north of Fairfield in Clay County, southeast of Grand Island.
Whooping cranes are protected by both the federal Endangered Species Act and the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. Penalties for killing, possessing or harassing whooping cranes or other protected species can result in fines of up to $50,000, up to a year in jail, or both, the commission said.
Fewer than 600 individual whooping cranes now exist in the wild. The 5-feet-tall, brilliant-white birds migrate through Nebraska each spring and fall between wintering sites along the Texas coast and breeding areas in northern Alberta.
Duck and goose hunters can find alternative, pumped wetlands nearby, the commission said.
For more information on whooping cranes, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/WhoopingCrane.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.