Feds could ground ultralight-led whooping crane migration

The AP

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided it will no longer support the use of ultralight aircraft to help young whooping cranes migrate from Wisconsin to Florida each fall.

Officials announced late last week that this season’s ultralight-guided flights to the birds’ wintering home will be the last.

Operation Migration is a nonprofit group that has led the mechanized migrations for 15 years. The Canadian-based group has opposed the end of ultralights, saying ultralight assistance has helped cranes survive.

Fish and Wildlife officials say one reason for the decision was a lack of success the birds have seen in producing chicks and raising them in the wild.

The public-private effort has spent more than $20 million to help the flock.