Last of whooping cranes departs Maryland breeding program

This Oct. 9, 2018 photo shows whooping cranes at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Md.  The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program.  (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
This Oct. 9, 2018 photo shows whooping cranes at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Md. The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP) (AP/Jerry Jackson)
A male Whooping Crane stretches those broad wings. His mate is partially visible behind him. Whooping Cranes mate for life. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
A male whooping crane stretches those broad wings. His mate is partially visible behind him. Whooping cranes mate for life. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Whooping cranes in their enclosure at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Whooping cranes in their enclosure at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Whooping crane at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Whooping crane at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
In this Oct. 9, 2018 photo, Hannah Hamilton wears a Whooping crane costume at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Md.  The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program.  (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
In this Oct. 9, 2018 photo, Hannah Hamilton wears a Whooping crane costume at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Md. The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP) (AP/Jerry Jackson)
FILE- In this June 21, 2018 file photo, an adult whooping crane lets out a defensive call at the Audubon Nature Institute's Species Survival Center in New Orleans. The center’s population of endangered whooping cranes includes birds sent from the Patuxent Research Refuge, a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland. The refuge has now sent off its last 75 whooping cranes, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program that transferred the birds to research institutions and zoos in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Canada. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE- In this June 21, 2018 file photo, an adult whooping crane lets out a defensive call at the Audubon Nature Institute’s Species Survival Center in New Orleans. The center’s population of endangered whooping cranes includes birds sent from the Patuxent Research Refuge, a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland. The refuge has now sent off its last 75 whooping cranes, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program that transferred the birds to research institutions and zoos in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Canada. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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This Oct. 9, 2018 photo shows whooping cranes at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Md.  The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program.  (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
A male Whooping Crane stretches those broad wings. His mate is partially visible behind him. Whooping Cranes mate for life. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Whooping cranes in their enclosure at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Whooping crane at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
In this Oct. 9, 2018 photo, Hannah Hamilton wears a Whooping crane costume at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Md.  The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program.  (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
FILE- In this June 21, 2018 file photo, an adult whooping crane lets out a defensive call at the Audubon Nature Institute's Species Survival Center in New Orleans. The center’s population of endangered whooping cranes includes birds sent from the Patuxent Research Refuge, a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland. The refuge has now sent off its last 75 whooping cranes, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program that transferred the birds to research institutions and zoos in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Canada. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

LAUREL, Md. (AP) — The last of a flock of 75 whooping cranes has left a U.S. Geological Survey site in Maryland, marking the end of a 52-year-old breeding program.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the federal agency says the last bird has been transferred from the Patuxent Research Refuge.

There were fewer than 50 whooping cranes alive when the breeding program began with a one-winged bird named Canus in the 1960s.

While still vulnerable, the population is now around 700, thanks to efforts including artificial insemination and biologists dressing in crane costumes.

USGS officials say its breeding research is no longer needed. The whooping cranes have gone to research institutions and zoos in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Canada.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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