Each year, sportsmen, bird-watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts can join forces with the Wildlife Department to track federally-endangered whooping cranes as the birds migrate south.
"We rely on the public to help us monitor this rare bird's path through Oklahoma," said Matt Fullerton, endangered species biologist for the Wildlife Department. Outdoor enthusiasts can report the location of migrating whooping cranes, along with information about the sighting, at wildlifedepartment.com.
"The first set of whooping cranes generally arrives in Oklahoma in mid-October and the last leaves the state sometime in November," said Fullerton. Most reports come from the western half of the state, typically east of Guymon and west of Interstate 35.
The entire population, close to 350 birds, migrates through Oklahoma each fall and spring as they travel from their Alberta breeding ground at Wood Buffalo National Park to their coastal Texas wintering ground at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Canadian officials reported an exceptional nesting season for whooping cranes; 45 juvenile birds are expected to make the 2,500 mile journey with the adults this year.
For more information about whooping cranes in Oklahoma, or to report a sighting offline, contact Fullerton at (580) 571-5820 or Mark Howery, wildlife diversity biologist for the Wildlife Department at (405) 990-7259.