Graceful red-crowned cranes in Hokkaido

Tsurui Village in eastern Hokkaido is a winter home to the red-crowned crane, a national natural monument and one of Japan's largest birds, with wingspans reaching up to 240 centimeters. These cranes were once on the brink of extinction due to overhunting and loss of habitat. However, conservation efforts by both the national and local governments have led to an increase in their population, with an estimated 1,650 of them in Japan. In the summer, the cranes can be found throughout Hokkaido, but during the harsh winter, most of them fly to Tsurui Village where the conservationists give them food.

In November 2022, one young crane was found to be infected with highly pathogenic avian flu for the first time in Japan, raising concerns about the potential spread of the disease. But no further cases have been confirmed since then.

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