(Fairfield, NE) -- Kissinger Wildlife Management Area near Fairfield is temporarily closed to all visitors, including hunters and wildlife watchers, due to the presence of two endangered whooping cranes.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the area, about 30 minutes south of Hastings, will remain closed until further notice. It is illegal under federal and state law to harm or harass the birds and the Commission says the temporary closure is intended to prevent such activity from occurring.
Waterfowl hunters can find alternative pumped wetlands nearby. Find information here under the wetland conditions tab, where Game and Parks lists pumping plans and status for federal and state-managed wetlands. The closure is a standard procedure for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission once whooping cranes are confirmed on a property owned or managed by the agency. The property will be monitored for activity.
Whooping cranes are endangered, with a wild population of fewer than 600 birds. The entire population migrates through Nebraska each spring and fall between wintering sites along the Texas coast and breeding areas in northern Alberta. The whooping cranes are protected by both the federal Endangered Species Act and the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. Penalties for killing, possessing or harassing whooping cranes or other species protected under these laws may include fines of up to $50,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
For more information on whooping cranes, click here.