The Health of Cranes

For January 31, 2018

Hi WN@TL Fans,

In my next life, perhaps I’ll come back as an otolaryngologist of cranes.  Between the beak and the neck, I’d have plenty to work with.

But there’s more to the health of a crane than any particular part, just as there’s more to the well-being of a flock of cranes than the health of any single bird.

I’m guessing that one challenge of becoming a wildlife veterinarian is being a skillful surgeon on an individual bird while also being able to safeguard the habitat & commonweal of an entire population—whether it be the myriads of sandhill cranes, or the Congress-worth of whooping cranes (in 2010 the actual count of both was 535;  the cranes are up around 600 now).

This Wednesday (January 31), Barry Hartup of the International Crane Foundation near Baraboo, and of the Department of Surgical Sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UW-Madison, will provide flights of insights to crane health, disease, and their interplay in conservation.

Here’s how Barry describes his talk:

How do you safely capture an endangered whooping crane in a salt marsh? How do you know when a bird — let alone a large one such as a crane — is not feeling well? How can veterinary medicine and conservation combine for the betterment of endangered wildlife and the people who share their ecosystems? Through formal ties with the UW School of Veterinary Medicine, Barry Hartup has made the care of the world’s 15 crane species his exclusive practice. In his presentation, Hartup will show how he has conducted his work for nearly 20 years with the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, Wisconsin; and with partners in Canada, Rwanda, China, and Mongolia.

About the Speaker

Hartup has helped to care for cranes at ICF since 2000. He is chair of the Whooping Crane Health Advisory Team, and he is a past cochair of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership that is working to reintroduce the whooping crane to Wisconsin and the Eastern Flyway. He also participates in field studies of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo whooping crane population of the Central Flyway that has shed new light on the migratory patterns and health of this flock.

Hartup has worked with colleagues around the world to improve the health of other endangered cranes, most notably in Rwanda and China. Working at ICF has helped Hartup to fulfill his professional interests in veterinary medicine, wildlife health and epidemiology, and conservation of endangered species. He earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctor of veterinary medicine degree from UW–Madison, as well as a doctoral degree from Cornell University.


The International Crane Foundation has been saving cranes since 1973. Next week, we get to hear about another icon of Wisconsin, one that’s been restoring prairie and pioneering research in many biomes since 1932.  Brad Herrick will be talking about the Arb’s research and ecological restoration programs.  He’ll also be inviting you to participate in the Arb’s annual Science Day coming up on Thursday February 15 from 9:00am to 11:30am at the Visitor Center.

Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!

Thanks again,

Tom Zinnen
UW-Madison and UW-Extension