Rare whooping crane spotted, captured in Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rare whooping crane spotted, captured in Dubuque

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

For the staff of Buffalo Wild Wings, the NFL season and the Cubs in the playoffs means a busy couple of weeks.

And as fun as they may be, the last few days have been even more fun, because of their new friend "Kevin".

Kevin is a rare juvenile whooping crane, one of just about 400 in the world, according to the International Crane Foundation.

He was released into the wild in Baraboo, Wis. about a month ago, but wandered off on his own and found a new home in Dubuque.

His favorite spot was a lot behind the Buffalo Wild Wings on Dubuque's West End.

"You know, everyday we were talking about Kevin, where he was, who saw him. People were asking about him," said Chad Miller, general manager of the restaurant.

Brian Preston, director of the Dubuque County Conservation Board was first notified about the bird on Friday.  He immediately alerted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who in turn contacted the International Crane Foundation.

But because these birds are endangered and so rare, Preston didn't engage with the bird, but rather, worked to make sure nobody bothered it.

"It's extremely rare bird, it's the first one I've ever seen in the wild, which was really neat experience to be able to see it," Preston said.

He was most concerned about the area the bird was hanging out in--a very high traffic area in Dubuque.

"It was in a really precarious place, there was a lot of traffic, it was walking out in traffic," he said. "It really was not afraid of humans, and we were really concerned about the welfare of that bird."

Craig Kruse, president of the Dubuque Audubon Society, also took a vested interest in the bird's brief stay in Dubuque.

"We kept a really close on it all week and we were out here about every 2 or 3 hours making sure nobody was harassing it and it was basically left alone," Kruse said.

Officials from the International Crane Foundation came to Dubuque Tuesday morning, and captured the bird using a snare to loop it's foot.  They took it to Spring Green, Wis., where they introduced it to a flock of sandhill cranes.  They hope the young whooping crane will connect with that flock and migrate with them south.

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