Feb 7, 2014 11:07 PM by Erin Steuber
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is asking for your help to find out who shot two whooping cranes in Jeff Davis Parish. As you may know, whooping cranes are on the endangered species list and are federally protected. In an effort to restore the whooping crane population, many of these birds have been brought to Louisiana and released, some just one month ago. The cranes were discovered near the corner of Compton and Radio Tower Road, just north of Roanoke. One was dead, another injured.
Just over a month ago, there was a lot to celebrate as the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries released whooping cranes back into the wild. But Friday morning another set back. A female crane was found dead, shot multiple times, and a male crane was found injured and taken to LSU for treatment.
"In 2011 they released 50 birds and they were part of those birds. Right now we have 31 of them that we're currently tracking. To date, this is the 4th and 5th birds that've been shot in the state," said Sgt. Wendel Vaughn with LDWF.
Vaughn says it is possible the birds were confused with snow geese, which are legally hunted. The birds are similar in color, but not stature.
"Sometimes hunters just get focused on shooting at white objects, especially when there are a lot of geese in like there are now," said Vaughn.
It's believed there are only 600 whooping cranes left in the world, 31 of those are in Louisiana. The goal is to have 130 in the state. LDWF is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone that has information that leads to an arrest.
"To see someone come along and recklessly shoot something that the state has spent a lot of money, as well as manpower, putting these birds back into the state, it's very frustrating," said Vaughn.
Whooping cranes are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Doing any harm to these birds could mean up to two years in jail and fines up to $15,000 per bird. Any equipment used to pursue, hunt or trap the birds can also be seized.