AUSTWELL, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has used a new technique to estimate a South Texas whooping crane refuge has at least 257 birds.
Last year's flock in the primary survey area around Aransas (uh-RAN'-zuhs) National Wildlife Refuge numbered 283 birds.
The Victoria Advocate (http://bit.ly/15nCijQ ) reported Sunday that the counting system was changed after Tom Stehn (sten), who was the whooping coordinator for nearly 30 years, retired in 2012.
The federal agency in December used information on survey flights to estimate the size of the flock — instead of a direct head count.
The 257 whooping cranes figure does not include as many as 11 percent more birds outside the survey area. The estimate was released Friday.
Information from: The Victoria Advocate, http://www.victoriaadvocate.com