More whooping cranes survive winter than expected

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March 16, 2010 5:32:40 AM PDT
It's been a much better year for the endangered whooping crane than biologists had hoped.

Last year a record 23 cranes died in their south Texas wintering grounds, and wildlife managers expected many to die again this season. Only one died this winter, but the cranes face many obstacles if they're to survive as a species.

Starting this month, they have a 2,500-mile migration back to Canada and food and water shortages could also take their toll.

There are about 400 wild whooping cranes left in the world. More than half are in the south Texas flock. Conservationists say those birds are the species' best chance for survival because the flock is self-sustaining.