Notice of permit

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Regional or Local Number: WB-2010-4998

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the provisions of section 74 of the Species at Risk Act permit no. WB-2010-4998 is issued.

Scientific research for the conservation of the species

This permit allows for a continuation of the Whooping Crane monitoring project in Wood Buffalo National Park. The project centers around conducting aerial surveys by fixed or rotary wing aircraft over the whooping crane summer range in the park and surrounding areas. Breeding pair surveys are May 1-30, hatching success surveys are June 5-20 and chick survival surveys are Aug. 8-20, 2006. Surveys have been conducted since 1966. Supplemental to the breeding ecology, the project also includes potential collection of unhatched eggs, scats and moulted feathers; measurement of nest ponds depth; collection of: water samples, potential food items of cranes, fecal pellets, prey remains, evidence of moulting, dead cranes and regurgitates. Crane vocalizations may be recorded on nesting territories by using playback to solicit responses from territorial pairs. Live trapping of invertebrates, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and minnows may take place on a limited basis. New to the project this year is the banding of juvenile whooping cranes with a GPS transmitter. This will be a three-year project with the overall objective of gaining a better understanding of Whooping Crane ecology and behavior during the annual cycle with the use of GPS and radio-telemetry technology. Each summer, 10 chicks will be marked with the transmitters (additional chicks will receive colour leg bands only) in WBNP and 10 adults will be marked in Texas. From 1977-1988 134 whooping cranes chicks were banded in WBNP and the capture techniques will be the same.

Start Date: 2010-05-01   End Date: 2011-12-31

Issuing Authority: Parks Canada Agency

Authority Used:

  • Species at Risk Act
  • Canada National Parks Act

Location of Activity (province, territory or ocean):

  • Alberta
  • Northwest Territories

Affected Species:

a)All reasonable alternatives to the activity that would reduce the impact on the species have been considered and the best solution has been adopted: Due to the inaccessibility of the whooping crane nesting area, aerial surveys are the only technique available to monitor breeding whooping cranes. Surveys of this nature have been conducted on the breeding and wintering grounds since 1966 with observations of colour leg bands beginning in 1977, results to date do not indicate that there is any adverse impact. The objectives outlined for the banding program can only be reached with banded birds because the nature of whooping cranes, the nature of their summer and wintering territories and the vast distances and areas covered on migration. From 1977-1988 134 juvenile whooping cranes were banded successfully in Wood Buffalo National Park. There has been an enormous amount of information gained from these marked birds that we otherwise could not have obtained (e.g. age at first breeding, longevity, productivity, site fidelity, divorce rates, mortality). b)All feasible measures will be taken to minimize the impact of the activity on the species or its critical habitat or the residences of its individuals: 1. Aerial surveys are normally conducted from an altitude of about 300m agl., except lower passes may be required to determine colour leg band information. Surveys of this nature have been conducted on the breeding and wintering grounds since 1966 with observations of colour leg bands beginning in 1977, results to date do not indicate that there is any adverse impact. 2. Helicopter disturbance to birds is minimal and brief and we have documented no adverse effect on nesting behavior or success. 3. We will trap hatch year birds before fledgling age with the use of a helicopter. From 1977-1988, CWS banded 134 juveniles WBNP, and we will capture birds using the same techniques. The capture crew will consist of 3 personnel; a veterinarian, handler, and bander. The crane will be cornered and either hand-grabbed or a long-handled net will be placed over the bird to subdue it. The handler will control the crane while the veterinarian and bander collect samples, take measurements, and attach leg bands. All capture and handling activities will follow the guidelines set forth in “Guidelines for Field Capture and Safe Handling of Whooping Cranes to Avoid Capture-Related Stress and Injury”. Banding operations will stop if an injury or mortality occurs until it is felt the problem is properly addressed and will only resume if it is felt changes have been made to avoid further problems. We always document the influence our activity has on the behavior of the birds and adjust our activities accordingly to reduce or negate the impact. c)The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species: There is no evidence to suggest that the aerial surveys, nest visits, collection of eggs, etc has had any negative effects on the population. From the time that the CWS begun the monitoring and recovery activities for whooping cranes (1954) the population has grown at an average rate of 4% per year. Banding cranes is not expected to negatively impact the population. In 2007-2008, a record 266 birds wintered on the Texas coast. However, the fall migration and winter of 2008-2009 was the worst on record in regards to Whooping Crane losses. A total of 57 AWBP cranes may have died over a 12-month period, or 21.4% of the flock. Of these 57 assumed mortalities, only 4 were recovered, all in Texas at Aransas NWR. None of the cranes that were lost during migration were recovered. In order to conserve a migratory species it is important to protect breeding grounds, wintering grounds, and stopover sites along the migration corridor. In its yearly cycle, the least understood and most vulnerable period is during migration. Whooping Cranes suffer the highest mortality during migration as determined by counts in the breeding and wintering areas, however, the exact causes or locations are not known nor documented. Understanding migration ecology and threats to Whooping Cranes during migration has been considered a priority of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team for several years (T. Stehn and B. Johns, pers. comm.). The WCRP in Task 1.3 specifically calls for the use of telemetry technology to identify areas of high crane use and potential problems with power lines (CWS and USFWS 2007).

Contact Person(s)
Sharon Irwin
Resource Management Officer
Parks Canada Agency
PO Box 750
Fort Smith, NT
X0E 0P0
Tel: 867-872-7948
Fax: 867-872-3910

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