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The last remaining whooping crane in the Rocky Mountains has been declared dead by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Its death marks the end of a biannual migration that brought the rare bird to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge in the San Luis Valley.
The 19-year-old whooping crane left is wintering grounds in northern New Mexico early last March. It was not observed in the valley or its summering grounds at Red Rocks Lake, Montana.
Tom Stehn is whooping crane coordinator for the wildlife service. He says the bird had fixed habits and its failure to show up means it probably died during its northward journey.
Despite the end of the Rocky Mountain population, there are an estimated 390 such birds in the wild and in captivity.