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   The Hunt for the Whooping Cranes
 

The Hunt for the Whooping Cranes

Author: McCoy, J. J, Set In . . .
 North America, USA, Texas, Canada, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, Northern Alberta, North West Territories, Great Slave Lake , Wood Buffalo National Park
Genre: Historical
Time Frame: Late 20th Century
Published: 1966
Description: Driven from their natural habitat by the settlement and urbanization of North America, ravaged by hunters, the proud, solitary and beautiful whooping cranes have long been on the verge of extinction. By the mid 1940's, only 27 wild whooping cranes were observed on the birds' winter grounds in the Aransas Wildlife Refuge along the coast of Texas. And in the spring of 1945, these 27 birds - the only wild whooping cranes left in the entire world - flew off as always on the long, hazardous journey to their summer nesting grounds somewhere in the far north of Canada. Where were these nesting grounds? No one knew.
Determined to save the cranes as a living species, the National Audubon Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Service, decided that it was imperative to locate the cranes' nesting grounds. Perhaps then measures could be taken to protect the newly hatched fledglings and their parents from animals and human enemies both in the nesting grounds, and along the migration route back to Aransas, studded with hunters who often shot the birds down at random.
But few of the conservationists who embarked on the hunt anticipated that it would require eleven summers, and the painstaking exploration of thousands of miles of Canadian wilderness, from Hudson's Bay to the Pacific Ocean, and from the U.S. border to the shores of the Arctic Ocean, before the tiny band of elusive birds would finally be located.
Writing in a suspenseful, narrative style, J. J. McCoy has achieved a most unusual work of natural history non-fiction. The reader feels the full excitement and satisfaction of scientific detective work, and the dedication and perseverance it demands, as he follows the biologists, conservationists, and ornithologists in their treks on foot through untracked wilderness, in canoes down rapids-filled rivers, and in helicopters and airplanes over huge forest areas and marshy tundras.
But the scope of this book extends beyond its immediate subject. In examining what motivates conservationists, Mr. McCoy quotes a question posed in an editorial on whooping cranes and their plight which appeared in The Christian Science Monitor: "Can a society, whether through sheer wantonness or callous neglect, permit the extinction of something beautiful or grand in nature without risking the extinction of something beautiful or grand in its own character?"
  
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