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CONFERENCE SCHEDULE UPDATES & CHANGES: As a result of the prolonged government shutdown, we experienced a number of cancellations and changes to the schedule. Cancellations and changes are listed here (as of January 26, 2019). 
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Monday, January 28 • 11:20am - 11:40am
(WILDLIFE: WETLAND CONSERVATION) The Influence of Impoundment Management on Whooping and Sandhill Crane Colt Survival at Necedah NWR

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AUTHORS: Ross P. McLean, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

ABSTRACT: Whooping Cranes (WHCR) are federally endangered and in 2001, a reintroduction effort was initiated at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NNWR) in Wisconsin to establish an Eastern Migratory Population (EMP). However, despite seventeen years of management, recruitment remains low. Greater Sandhill Cranes (SACR, Antigone canadensis tabida) are biologically similar to WHCRs and have similar breeding ecology. We studied colt survival for both crane species at NNWR to determine if low recruitment is unique to the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) of WHCRs, or an issue for both North American crane species in the initial introductory breeding grounds of the EMP. Additionally, we lowered water levels in some wetland impoundments to better mimic the natural annual water cycle. This management action was part of an effort to increase wetland and forage access for wading birds during summer months. Our objectives were to determine (1) if summer drawdowns and reduced wetland water levels increase survival of WHCR and SACR colts compared to cranes reared in or near impoundments with full water levels, and (2) differences in overall colt survival rates between species. We hypothesized that (1) WHCR would use the drawdown areas more than available wetlands with higher water levels, and (2) that colt survival would be higher in lower water wetlands due to increased mobility and access to prey. We placed VHF transmitters on adults and colts of both species to collect colt survival status and family group locations every day during the 2017-2018 field seasons. Analyses are ongoing, but many of the fledged colts were raised in areas with lower water. We will discuss implications for crane management in the Midwest. <a href="applewebdata://63650BC7-DDE7-47CB-BF71-58A32F69113E#_msoanchor_1"></a>

Monday January 28, 2019 11:20am - 11:40am EST