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Sandhill Crane Festival

November 6-8 · Hutchins Street Square Lodi, CA

November 6-8, 2015

Hutchins Street Square · Lodi, CA

800-581-6150 ·

Featured Presentations

Saving Endangered Whooping Cranes – Another North American Iconic Species

Saturday, November 8, 2014
12:30-1:20 PM
Crete Hall, Hutchins Street Square, Lodi, CA

Actively working to save the endangered Whooping Crane requires a multi-pronged approach by the International Crane Foundation (ICF) and its partners. From a low of 16 birds in 1941, this species has gradually rebounded to about 300 individuals in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo (AWB) population, which is the only remaining wild population. Several efforts have been undertaken to reintroduce new populations across the North American continent. ICF has been a predominant contributor to the captive breeding, training, and release of young Whooping Cranes into experimental programs to safeguard the species as a whole. This precarious hold on recovery could be seriously compromised from a variety of dangers, and our new program “Keeping Whooping Cranes Safe” is in full swing this year to mitigate shooting risks in the breeding and wintering grounds and along the migration routes. In the AWB population, the most overarching concern to overwintering cranes is focused around diminishing freshwater inflows into the bays where the entire wild population winters in coastal marshes. We are working with a variety of partners to understand how much and when water is critical to the survival of Whooping Crane's primary food, the blue crab, and to the overall health of each individual. This integrated approach is certainly necessary to ensure this endangered species returns from the brink of extinction.

Dr. Elizabeth Smith is a Texas native, growing up on the coast and earning degrees from Corpus Christi State University (B.S., M.S., Biology) and Texas A&M University (Ph.D., Wildlife & Fisheries Science). She worked for 17 years as a Research Scientist at the Center for Coastal Studies, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi and joined the International Crane Foundation in 2011 as their Whooping Crane Conservation Biologist and manager of the Texas Program. Dr. Smith works with a diversity of partners to educate the community and policy makers on the importance of healthy coastal ecosystems, which are dependent on the protection of large expanses of natural habitat and reliable freshwater inflows into the bays from coastal rivers.

For more information about ICF's Whooping Crane programs, please see:


Influences on Sandhill Crane Habitat Suitability

Sunday, November 9, 2014
12:30-1:20 PM
Crete Hall, Hutchins Street Square, Lodi, CA

Sandhill Cranes of our region face some significant threats, as increasing amounts of suitable crane habitat have been lost to land conversions or incompatible management practices. Laura Shaskey, Staten Island Conservation Program Manager, will share her research on Sandhill Crane habitat selection and will explain how this information can be used to guide crane-friendly land management practices. She will also discuss current crane research, monitoring, and habitat management occurring on Staten Island, a critical wintering area for cranes of the Delta region.

Laura Shaskey graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology in 2004, and subsequently fell in love with Sandhill Cranes while conducting nesting bird surveys for the Forest Service. She attended graduate school at Sonoma State University and completed her M.S. thesis on Sandhill Crane habitat suitability in the rice landscape and managed wetlands of the northern Sacramento Valley.

Laura spent 5 years working as a Wildlife Biologist at National Wildlife Refuges throughout the Central Valley and Bay Area, and she was involved with crane monitoring and habitat management on several of those Refuges. In 2014, she moved to the Delta region to work for Conservation Farms and Ranches as the Conservation Program Manager for Staten Island, which provides important foraging and roosting habitat for cranes wintering in the Delta.