It is hard to believe that anybody trying to save whooping cranes from extinction might have enemies.

Joe Duff of Port Perry heads a non-profit group dedicated to helping the world’s most famous endangered bird. Reduced to 15 known individuals in 1941, the whooping crane is also North America’s tallest bird, standing 1.5 metres tall.

At the moment, Duff is leading 20 young cranes via aircraft in formation on their first 2,000-kilometre migration south.?

But when somebody checked on the Wisconsin hangar Duff’s team occupies three weeks ago, it was found wrecked. Vandals had slashed wings to four ultra-light aircraft, punctured tires, spray-painted walls, stole a few things and smashed a much loved whooping-crane sculpture built by one of the pilots.

Operation Migration, based in Port Perry north of Oshawa, will soon post a reward for information leading to an arrest, Duff said. General donations can be made at