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Endangered Species

Laurel refuge gets whooping cranes 'into the wild'

Laurel refuge gets whooping cranes 'into the wild'

A loud, trumpet-like call sweeps across acres of tall grass fields at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel. The call, made by a male whooping crane, is quickly followed by a shorter, two-note call from a nearby female. "That's the unison call," said Charlie Shafer, a biological technician at the U.S. Geological Survey's on-site Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. The unison call is how the majestic North American birds got their name, Shafer said. It's also a sign that breeding season has begun at the largest whooping crane captive breeding program in the nation. In 1966, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center created the...