AUSTWELL (February 18, 2013)--The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has used a new technique to estimate that a South Texas whooping crane refuge has at least 257 birds.
Last year's flock in the primary survey area around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge numbered 283 birds.
The counting system was changed after Tom Stehn, who was the whooping crane 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 rather than a direct head count.
The number doesn’t include as many as 11 percent more birds outside the survey area.