Audubon Institute researchers evaluate a whooping crane at the New Orleans facility in October of 2018. The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland is shutting down its breeding program of the bird and moving the flock to the Audubon Institute.

Louisiana's threatened whooping crane population has grown by 12.

A dozen birds were introduced to the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge last week, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has announced.

"Included in that wild population number are five chicks that were hatched and fledged in southwest Louisiana last spring. The five chicks are the most hatched in a single year since the project began in 2011 and represent a major milestone in the whooping crane reintroduction project," the department wrote in a statement.

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