Water Released to Aid Whopping Cranes

KEARNEY  (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has begun releasing water into the Platte River from Lake McConaughy in an effort to benefit endangered whooping cranes during their migration stopover in central Nebraska. The releases started Saturday and are expected to continue until May 10. They should increase flows from Overton to Grand Island to about 1,700 cubic feet per second. That is the minimum flow in a dry year that the wildlife agency believes is necessary to maintain adequate roosting and feeding habitat for whooping cranes. The whooping crane is one of the rarest bird species in North America. It stands nearly 5 feet tall and has a wingspan of up to 7 feet. Whooping cranes are protected under the Endangered Species Act.