The latest and biggest ultralight-led migration of endangered whooping cranes started in central Wisconsin Saturday with a small hop of eight miles ... with the destination in Florida still some 12-hundred miles away.
The 20 juvenile whoopers hatched and raised in captivity are the latest group of young cranes to be led south as part of an effort to establish a second migratory flock of the birds in North America.
As a result of the effort, now in its fifth year, there are just over 40 adult cranes in the flock, making the migratory flights south in fall and north in spring on their own.
The 20 young cranes left the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge today guided by five ultralight aircraft.
Pilot Joe Duff of Operation Migration says all but five of them followed along to the first landing area ... and workers had to gather the others on foot and truck them in cages to the landing spot where the birds spend the night in a portable pen.
He says the latest migration is off to a great start.