Reward in whooping crane death now at $15k
The reward for information in the April death of a whooping crane has risen to $15,000 as state wildlife and fisheries officials have teamed up with several agencies to increase the reward from $10,000.
The whooping crane, fitted with a GPS tracking device as part of the wildlife department’s whooping crane reintroduction program, was found and recovered from the bank of the Red River about two miles northwest of Loggy Bayou on April 16. After a necropsy, it was determined that the bird was shot with a 6.5mm/.264 caliber projectile.
Department biologist Sara Zimorski said they’re hopeful, that by increasing the reward amount, it will also increase the incentive for someone to come forward with information about the shooting.
The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering $5,000, while the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation put up $3,800. LDWF’s Operation Game Thief Program, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Whooping Crane Conservation Association and John Perilloux are each offering $1,000. Anonymous donors also contributed.
There are now about 600 of the graceful white birds with red caps, black masks, and black tips at the end of their wide wings. About 400 are in the wild. The only self-sustaining flock is about 250 birds that migrate between Texas and Canada; another 100 are in a flock taught to migrate between Wisconsin and Florida by following ultra-light airplanes.
Forty birds have been released in Louisiana since 2011 in an attempt to establish a flock where the 5-foot-tall birds last lived in 1939. Twenty-five are still alive. The 3-year-old female killed in April was among the first 10 released; only one of that group survived.
In October of 2011, two juveniles were charged for their alleged role in the illegal shooting of two whooping cranes in Jeff Davis Parish.
According to an eyewitness account, two juveniles stopped on Lyons Road in between Mouton and Guidry roads south of Jennings at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 and allegedly shot from their truck, killing two whooping cranes.
Agents were able to locate the suspected juveniles shortly after the shootings occurred.
Whooping cranes, the most endangered of all of the world’s crane species, were first added to the federal status of an endangered species on March 11, 1967. Historically, both a resident and migratory population of whooping cranes were present in Louisiana through the early 1940s. Whooping cranes inhabited the marshes and ridges of the state’s southwest Chenier Coastal Plain, as well as the uplands of prairie terrace habitat to the north. Within this area, whooping cranes used three major habitats: tall grass prairie, freshwater marsh, and brackish/salt marsh. The Louisiana crane population was not able to withstand the pressure of human encroachment, primarily the conversion of nesting habitat to agricultural acreage, as well as hunting and specimen collection, which also occurred across North America. The last bird in southwest Louisiana was removed to a sanctuary in 1950.
There are about 570 whooping cranes left in the world, only 400 in the wild.
Please help protect them before this beautiful bird is lost forever.
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