The Federal Aviation Administration has decided to grant an exemption to Operation Migration—a group which reintroduces whooping cranes into eastern North America—because their current journey was voluntarily grounded “mid-migration.”
Operation Migration is working to re-establish whooping cranes in their historic eastern range by guiding young cranes with ultralight aircrafts along a migration route stretching from Wisconsin to Florida. As reported in the Associated Press and The New York Times, the group grounded their aircraft and birds in Alabama when the FAA informed them of an investigation into whether or not their pilots were receiving compensation (Operation Migration’s pilots are not commercially licensed and cannot fly for hire).
In a statement received by Audubon magazine at 4:24 pm EST on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration reported that they will grant “a one-time exemption so that migration can be completed." Operation Migration and the FAA will work together to find a long-term solution for future migrations.
For more on the work of Operation Migration and amazing whooping cranes, don’t miss:
Make Way for Whoopers
How does Operation Migration do it? Dressed in white robes and masks and carrying puppets, conservationists determined to bolster whooping crane numbers train fledglings how to migrate to safety.
For the past century the whooping crane has followed a short path to the edge of extinction. Having successfully lured the birds back on migration routes by flying ultralight planes and donning crane costumes, biologists are now acting as foster parents as they prepare to release young cranes directly into the wild this fall.
and an Audubon-exclusive Podcast
Listen to the sounds of whooping cranes (and biologists) in the field as birds are prepped for their migration.