Rocky Mountain Experiment: In 1975, an effort to establish a second, self-sustaining migratory flock was initiated by transferring wild whooping crane eggs from Wood Buffalo National Park to the nests of greater sandhill cranes at Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho. This Rocky Mountain population peaked at only 33 birds in 1985. The experiment terminated in 1989 because the birds were not pairing and the mortality rate was too high to establish a self-sustaining population. In 1997, the remaining birds in the population were designated as experimental, non-essential to allow for greater management flexibility and to begin pilot studies on developing future reintroduction methods. In 2001, there were only two remaining whooping cranes in this population.
–U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services
They transplanted, they egged our nests
which was a call to try something new. Fly
away! You don’t know what it’s like
to not see lines in the sky, to electrocute yourself.
You don’t know what it’s like to be the last,
to outlast, to be told you must mate
with a different species.
In wetlands you find coughs, logs full
of grubs wheedling away. Pretend it’s easy
when you migrate to any field, when you have
many clandestine companions. But have fun
coming home to gun shells, clapping
frogs applauding your escape, to camouflage.
Just wait for summer.
I have been flogged by your kind, told
I’m too tall, kicked out of nests, and
I wish I could see the death of all
habitats, but it isn’t as easy as
drying up the swale or releasing
your kids, or making roads, or
leaking fear with gasoline of your presence.
. . You won’t stop us. I wish I could have stayed
home, cozy somewhere in the south,
where water bleeds from everything. Still,
a cape of heat will transform us all.
Jeff Pearson is a graduate of the University of Idaho’s MFA Program and has been published by Black Rock & Sage, Otis Nebula, a capella zoo, Heavy Feather Review, Shampoo, Salt Front, Axolotl, and Moon City Review. His first chapbook, Sick Bed was published by Small Text Dreams Press. In 2015 he was a finalist for University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Summer Residency Program judged by Eduardo Corral. He currently teaches at Lewis-Clark State College in Northern Idaho.