Father Hupp Wildlife Management Area in southeastern Nebraska has been temporarily closed to protect six endangered whooping cranes.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission closed the park located about two miles west of Bruning in Thayer County.
Once the cranes leave, the area will re-open.
Game and Parks says it is following standard procedure once whooping crane sightings are confirmed.
“We value the outdoor opportunities our properties provide to hunters and other recreationists, but our WMAs also provide valuable habitat to an array of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species,” said Scott Taylor, the Commission’s wildlife division administrator, in a written statement released by Game and Parks. “This temporary closure is intended to not only protect whooping cranes, but to also protect the public from accidentally disturbing or harming the birds, which is illegal under federal and state law.”
The total population of whooping cranes is estimated to be only about 300.
Whooping cranes migrate through Nebraska each spring and fall, flying between their wintering sites in Texas and their breeding areas in northern Alberta, Canada.
Whooping cranes are protected by both the federal Endangered Species Act and the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. Penalties for killing, possessing, or harassing whooping cranes or other species protected under these laws may include fines of up to $50,000, up to year in jail, or both.