The Price of a Whooping Crane

An article titled, “The Price of a Whooping Crane” can be read on the website “The Drinking Bird” (April 22). The author, “Nate” describes his concerns about the recent shootings of these beautiful birds and their values to us.

Nate writes:  “With all the time and effort that has gone into the reclamation of the Whooping Crane population, you might get the impression that this is a valuable bird and you’d be right in strictly monetary terms  The FWS has spent on the order of $6.1 million annually on Whooping Crane recovery.  Given the long lifespan of the birds, their low recruitment, and the fact that it takes nearly 10 years to build a population of 100 individual birds, we’re looking at an estimated outlay of something on the order of $126 million through 2035, according to published budgets . You would be justified in setting the cost of a single Whooping Crane, at minimum, at just over $12,000 per year.”

Nate continues: “Perhaps it’s not appropriate to think of the birds like that.  After all,  the population of Whoopers is more important than any individual.  But when the number of individual birds is so low it’s impossible to deny that the loss of any one bird, by natural or unnatural means, resonates in ways quantifiable and not.   Worth isn’t just something quantifiable, it’s the knowledge that the Whopping Crane exists somewhere.  It’s the adrenaline shivering through your veins at the sight of a line of massive white birds rising over a Kansas horizon, or dancing on a Texas saltmarsh.  It’s both subjective and objective in difference measures, but the bottom line is that it matters.”

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