Work normally arranged this time of year by federal employees to prepare for sandhill cranes' migration to a central New Mexico wildlife refuge has been put off by the partial government shutdown.
Without the shutdown, Fish and Wildlife Service employees by now would have arranged for plowing under Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge wetlands that serve as winter habitat for the cranes.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that Leigh Ann Vradenburg of a community group that supports the refuge says that work has been put on hold indefinitely by the shutdown.
Vradenburg says the failure to prepare the birds' winter habitat makes it more likely that the birds will spread out across the Rio Grande Valley and raid farmers' fields for food.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.