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Last of whooping cranes departs Maryland breeding program

March 14, 2019
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FILE- In this June 21, 2018 file photo, an adult whooping crane lets out a defensive call at the Audubon Nature Institute's Species Survival Center in New Orleans. The center’s population of endangered whooping cranes includes birds sent from the Patuxent Research Refuge, a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland. The refuge has now sent off its last 75 whooping cranes, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program that transferred the birds to research institutions and zoos in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Canada. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

LAUREL, Md. (AP) — The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the federal agency says the last bird has been transferred from the Patuxent Research Refuge.

There were fewer than 50 whooping cranes alive when the breeding program began with a one-winged bird named Canus in the 1960s.

While still vulnerable, the population is now around 700, thanks to efforts including artificial insemination and biologists dressing in crane costumes.

USGS officials say its breeding research is no longer needed. The whooping cranes have gone to research institutions and zoos in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Canada.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com