~ The 16th North American Crane Workshop ~

The North American Crane Working Group held the 16th North American Crane Workshop in Baraboo, Wisconsin, on 23-26 October 2023. The theme of this workshop was “50 Years of Crane Conservation: Challenges and Opportunities”. This NACWG workshop was also part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the International Crane Foundation, our hosting organization, in 2023. The agenda included a welcoming evening icebreaker followed by two days of scientific sessions at the Baraboo Arts Banquet and Convention Center in downtown Baraboo and a concluding field trip. There were 84 registrants, making this one of the largest workshops to date. The scientific program consisted of 55 oral presentations. Workshop Coordinator Dr. Barry Hartup and staff of the International Crane Foundation did an outstanding job of planning and arrangements.

Baraboo is located in southcentral Wisconsin, surrounded by the Baraboo Range National Natural Landmark and a long stretch of the Wisconsin River, intertwined with abundant agricultural lands that attract thousands of resident and migrating sandhill cranes. The area offers a unique laboratory to study cranes and agriculture, which ICF has done for over 30 years. This area is also adjacent to a long-standing effort to reintroduce whooping cranes to eastern North America through creation of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP). Our field trip included a morning at the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and the afternoon at ICF, together with a mix of crane viewing.

Leopold Shack in Sauk County

Leopold shack in Sauk County, Wisconsin (origin of A Sand County Almanac). (photo by Meggin Weinandt)

At each Workshop, we formally recognize the achievements of individuals who have dedicated themselves to saving cranes and crane habitat with NACWG’s highest honor, the L. H. Walkinshaw Crane Conservation Award. This was the first Workshop with two Walkinshaw Awards, presented to Dr. Glenn Olsen of USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center (formerly Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) and Dr. Barry Hartup of the International Crane Foundation. These individuals were the chief veterinarians of their respective crane research and captive propagation facilities for decades, integrally involved in crane reintroductions including the Whooping Crane EMP, and have produced dozens of research publications on cranes and their health issues. Special recognition awards were also granted to Jim Montgomery (New Mexico), Dr. Liz Smith (Texas), and Dr. Richard Urbanek (Great Lakes), and student awards to Nicole Gordon (Wisconsin), Mary Anderson (Angelo State University), Jessica Diaz (Pittsburgh), and Zhiwei Guo (LSU).

Workshop 16 Award winners

Walkinshaw Award recipients Drs. Glenn Olsen and Barry Hartup (center) and Special Recognition Award recipients Dr. Richard Urbanek (left) and Dr. Liz Smith and Jim Montgomery (right). (photo by Antonio Cantú)

Workshop 16 Student Award winners

Student Award winners Nicole Gordon, Mary Anderson, Jessica Diaz, and Zhiwei Guo. (photo by Antonio Cantú).
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