“We are happy to report that the first whooping crane arrived this week. It is spending time in the Lamar area,” said Sonny Perez, Refuge manager.
And Dr. Wade Harrell, U.S. whooping crane recovery coordinator, on Tuesday morning, said more cranes followed that first whooper.
“We had a few – five – more whooping cranes spotted on the Refuge over the weekend, but overall fall migration appears to be a bit later than normal this year with most of the birds still in Canada and the northern plains states,” Harrell said.
“We expect most of the population to arrive in Texas over the next month or so as migration continues,” he added
Perez said the Refuge reopened on Thursday, Oct. 17, following the forced closure due to the government shutdown. Only one thing was wrong as it reopened: The phone lines were down.
“Unfortunately, the Refuge phone lines went out of service during the closure, and we are trying to get them back up now,” Perez said.
“Furloughed staff returned to duty at their regularly scheduled time. We were able to restore regular operational hours immediately. We took time to inspect facilities to ensure their readiness to receive visitors,” he added.
Perez said three staff members had maintained the Refuge during the government shutdown.
“Three staff were designated as essential staffing during the lapse in appropriations and were on duty to protect resources and address any emerging safety issues,” Perez said.
“Maintenance operations were not conducted during the closure as they would incur a cost to the government,” he added.
Now, the Visitor Center has reopened and keeps its usual hours from Thursday through Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.