The ongoing plan for the flock established in Wisconsin involves releasing 10 to 25 juvenile cranes from the PWRC into the NNWR annually (USFWS, 2001). To manage and track the flocks movement and survival, cranes are radio-tagged and monitored. Experiments examining the effectiveness of co-releasing whooping cranes with migrating sandhill cranes will also be investigated. If results are favourable, the releases will continue for at least ten years or until 25 breeding pairs are established. Cranes that fail to follow the ultralight aircraft well enough during their initial release will be physically transported to the next stopover site, where they will be given a second chance to fly with their flock.
In order for the whooping cranes species to be down-listed from the endangered status to the threatened status, a minimum of 40 nesting pairs must be established in the Aransas–Wood Buffalo Park flock, and two additional, separate wild populations of whooping cranes must be established with a minimum of 25 nesting pairs. The total estimated cost of recovery is nearly 126 million to achieve (USFWS, 2007). This long-term recovery goal also involves establishing a self-sustaining population of a minimum of 1,000 whooping cranes in North America by the year 2035. For birds in the PWRC, long-term survival and productivity of the captive populations will require healthy flock; thus, veterinary procedures must be refined to minimize mortality. A thorough pedigree history for each producing pair in the captive flock must be also developed to track genetic diversity (USFWS, 2007).
Other management strategies include conducting aerial surveys to monitor population numbers, movements, territories, habitat use, and mortality. At present, government-assigned restrictions on construction periods, hunting, and restricting placement of new power line corridors around wetlands or crane-use areas are also being negotiated. Moreover, measuring food resources in the summer, winter, and during migration should also be considered; this includes calculating water levels, food resources, and salinities, and relating these to the energy budgets of the cranes. For instance, in 1997, a cooperative agreement was signed by several states intended to improve habitat conditions on the Platte River – a major stopover site for migrating cranes (USFWS, 2007). In some national wildlife refuges, prescribed burning is carried out to reduce height and density of grasses, in order to make stopover sites more attractive for whooping cranes (Hunt et al., 1996).