Kissinger Wildlife Management Area is temporarily closed effective immediately due to the presence of two endangered whooping cranes. The area will remain closed until further notice by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Kissinger WMA is about 1 mile north of Fairfield in Clay County.
The closure is a standard procedure for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission once whooping cranes are confirmed on a property owned or managed by the agency. The property will be monitored for activity.
“We value the outdoor opportunities our properties provide to hunters and other recreationists, but our WMAs also provide valuable habitat to an array of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species,” said Alicia Hardin, the Commission’s wildlife division administrator. “This temporary closure is intended to not only protect whooping cranes, but to also protect the public from accidentally disturbing or harming the birds, which is illegal under federal and state law.”
Whooping cranes are protected by both the federal Endangered Species Act and the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. Penalties for killing, possessing or harassing whooping cranes or other species protected under these laws may include fines of up to $50,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
Whooping cranes are an endangered species and their wild population totals fewer than 600 individuals. The entire population migrates through Nebraska each spring and fall between wintering sites along the Texas coast and breeding areas in northern Alberta.
Waterfowl hunters can find alternative pumped wetlands nearby; find information at OutdoorNebraska.gov/WaterfowlChecklist under the wetland conditions tab, where Game and Parks lists pumping plans and status for federal- and state-managed wetlands.
For more information on whooping cranes, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/WhoopingCrane.
Updated 4:46 p.m. Oct. 19, 2022, to clarify Kissinger WMA will remain closed until further notice by Game and Parks.