Whooping crane eggs in Acadiana not fertile

The first wild whooping crane eggs documented in the state in 75 years will not hatch, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced Friday.

A pair of cranes brought to Louisiana as part of a project to re-establish the endangered birds here laid two eggs in March, but the 30-day incubation period has run and wildlife biologists have determined the eggs are not fertile.

“Although this nest did not produce chicks, it is still a very positive and progressive step for the reintroduction project for many reasons,” said Robert Love, with Wildlife and Fisheries. “This seems to be a strongly bonded pair, which produced two normal eggs early in the spring and incubated them full term.”

The eggs were the first since wildlife officials released an initial group of young whooping cranes in 2011, an effort to bring the birds back to the wetlands of south Louisiana where they were last seen more than five decades ago.

Biologists had not expected the eggs to be viable because the parents were not yet 4 years old, the age at which the birds generally start becoming successful nesters, according to Wildlife and Fisheries.

Wildlife researchers have released 50 whooping cranes since 2011 at the state’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish, the same general area where the last known flock of whooping cranes in Louisiana roosted decades ago.

Thirty of the birds have survived.

Predators took most of the others, but five succumbed to gunshot wounds, according to Wildlife and Fisheries.

Another group of young cranes is expected to arrive later this year at White Lake.

For information on the whooping crane reintroduction project, visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/whooping-cranes.