1/4/12 – The annual migration of whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida was recently halted in Alabama. An attorney for Operation Migration said the group voluntarily stopped its journey, after learning that an ultra-light pilot guiding nine baby cranes broke federal rules. The F-A-A prohibits ultra-light pilots from being paid – and Operation Migration compensates its pilots. Attorney Charles Barnett said the group didn’t want to knowingly violate federal rules. He has asked officials to exempt Operation Migration from the payment ban, saying the group tries to protect an endangered species. For more than a decade, Operation Migration has reared baby crane chicks in Wisconsin and flew them to Florida. That’s where they’ve met up with other birds, in an effort to expand the crane population in the eastern U-S. The babies are guided in their first year. After that, many make the trip on their own. The International Crane Foundation of Baraboo says there are now 103 whooping cranes in the eastern U-S.