The juvenile whooping crane chick that was found dead last month in WBNP was killed by a predator, according to autopsy findings.
The young crane in Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) had been fitted with a transmitter to its leg as a part of a telemetry research project on the migration routes of the birds. It was injured during the capture process while trying to escape by scratching itself with its talon while running.
A veterinarian was part of the capture team, which included wildlife experts from the US, Canada and the national park, and the small wound was treated immediately.
A few days later, when the signal from the transmitter indicated that the bird had stopped moving, WBNP staff went to the location and found the bird deceased. The carcass was sent to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for autopsy.
Stuart Macmillan, manager of resource conservation for WBNP, said the autopsy determined the bird had bite wounds, broken bones, and internal bleeding indicating it had been attacked by a predator.
Although the wound associated with the capture of the bird did not contribute to the bird’s death, Macmillan said the incident has resulted in a reassessment of capture tactics. In the future, if a bird is found injured in any way after it has been captured, the wound will be treated immediately, the bird will be released and no devices will be attached.