Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officials are still looking for leads regarding a whooping crane that was found shot to death in Red River Parish in April.
LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the USFWS each initially offered up to $1,000 in rewards, for a total of up to $3,000.
LDWF Whooping Crane Biologist Sara Zimorski said, “We are grateful to the organizations and individuals who have contributed to the reward fund and we hope this extra incentive will bring forward some leads to help solve this case.”
The Humane Society of the United States and the The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering $5,000, John Perilloux is offering $1,000, the International Crane Foundation, through the restitution money from the South Dakota whooping crane shooting case is offering $500, the Audubon Nature Institute is offering $250, and an anonymous donor is offering $250. This brings the total in rewards to $10,000 for anybody that has any information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
If any group or person wants to donate funds to increase the reward amount, please contact LDWF Biologist Sara Zimorski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 337-536-9400 ext. 4.
To report any information regarding this whooping crane shooting, please call 1-800-442-2511.
The whooping crane was found and recovered from the bank of the Red River about two miles northwest of Loggy Bayou on April 16. After a necropsy of the crane, it was determined that the bird was shot with a 6.5mm/.264 caliber projectile.
Investigators believe the bird was shot between April 10 and 14. The whooping crane was a part of LDWF’s whooping crane reintroduction program and was fitted with a GPS tracking device. The last tracking point of the crane moving was on April 10 near where she was eventually found dead on April 16. The last tracking point received was on April 14 at the location she was found.
This whooping crane was released in Louisiana on March 14, 2011.
LDWF has released 40 whooping cranes since 2011 and currently have 25 whooping cranes they are tracking. This is the third whooping crane that has been found shot with the previous two having been shot in Jefferson Davis Parish in October of 2011.
The reintroduced whooping cranes came from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, and they were placed in the coastal marsh of Vermilion Parish within LDWF’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA). This reintroduced population marked the first presence of whooping cranes in the wild in Louisiana since 1950.
LDWF is working cooperatively with the USFWS, USGS, and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state. This non-migratory flock of whooping cranes is designated as a non-essential, experimental population but is still protected under state law, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.