Fort Smith, Territoires-du-Nord-Ouest
The Whooping Crane nesting area and summer range is located approximately 75 km west of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. The site, which straddles the border between the Northwest Territories and Alberta, encompasses the northeastern portion of Wood Buffalo National Park and adjacent wetlands. Habitats within this area are poorly drained and interspersed with numerous shallow water wetlands, most with marl bottoms. The wetlands are generally separated by narrow ridges that support black spruce, tamarack, willows, and dwarf birch. Within the wetlands, the dominant species are bulrush, sedge, and cattail. The large upland areas between the marsh complexes support coniferous and mixed forests dominated by white spruce, black spruce and aspen.
As implied by the site's name, this area supports the entire breeding population of migratory Whooping Cranes during the late spring and summer months. About 178 Whooping Cranes, a species which has been identified as globally endangered, have been recorded here during recent surveys. There are currently about 100 additional Whooping Cranes in captive breeding programs in Canada and the U.S., and a small introduced population in Florida.
The migratory Whooping Crane population has increased from 15 birds in 1941 to the current population of about 178 (a non-migratory population in Louisiana was extirpated in the late 1940s). The birds winter approximately 4,000 km south of their breeding range on the coast of Texas, mainly in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
In addition to Whooping Cranes, the area supports three to four pairs of the nationally endangered anatum ssp. of the Peregrine Falcon. A typical community of boreal forest and wetland birds is also present including Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Bald Eagle, among others.
The Whooping Crane nesting area and summer range, as delineated here, is part of a much larger area (16,895 km²) that is recognized as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar convention and as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Most of the area is protected within Wood Buffalo National Park.
Specific conservation measures for Whooping Cranes within the park include controlled access to the nesting area as well as restrictions on low-flying aircraft. The Canadian Wildlife Service also conducts annual population surveys. Outside the park, threats include disturbance from vehicles, aircraft, hunting, and collisions with power lines. One of the more critical, uncontrollable threats to Whooping Cranes is drought. Such conditions reduce the abundance of amphibians and invertebrates upon which the cranes feed, and make it easier for predators to move about in the normally waterlogged terrain.Catégories ZICO Habitats Usages Menaces Potencielles ou Existantes Status de Protection
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