Operation Migration's Wisconsin Hangar Vandalized

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While the staff of Operation Migration was working at a wildlife refuge in Florida last month, helping to establish a migrating flock of endangered whooping cranes, their hangar in Necedah, Wisc., was broken into by vandals who stole and destroyed thousands of dollars worth of gear and slashed the fabric wings of four ultralights. "A few minutes of senseless destruction means we're looking at a bill for $20,000 to replace the wings," Joe Duff, CEO of the nonprofit group, wrote in the group's blog last week. There was no insurance on the hangar contents. A vintage ultralight that was used in the filming of Fly Away Home was damaged, artwork created by one of the staffers was destroyed, and tires were slashed on two cars stored in the hangar. "All of us lost something in that willful destruction of property, but mostly we lost faith," wrote Duff. "Who knows what motivates such unrepressed anger. ... Instead of lashing out, we will redirect our anger at this cowardly act of destruction into more resolve." Supporters of the group have started a fundraising drive to try to replace some of the damaged goods.

Besides the vandalism, several items were stolen. One staffer who worked on the road had stored personal belongings at the hangar, which were taken or destroyed. Local officials so far say they have no suspects in the investigation. Volunteer pilot Jack Wrighter said on the group's blog that he will match up to $1,000 in donations that come in marked for wing replacement. Click here to contribute. Operation Migration has been working since 2001 to help endangered whooping cranes establish migration routes, by leading them in flight with ultralight aircraft.