A whooping crane shooting in April is still unsolved. Last week, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said that the reward for turning in the shooter of the endangered birds will be increased to $10,000.
Wildlife agents found the shot whooping crane on the bank of the Red River near Loggy Bayou on April 16, but they only recently publicized the shooting, which they believe took place between April 10 and 14.
The species has been extirpated in Louisiana for decades, but wildlife officials have been working on a program to reintroduce the whooping crane to the state. The only self-sustaining wild flock that still exists is a migratory group of about 250 birds that breed in Canada and winter in Texas.
The new Louisiana program is struggling. Of forty birds released since 2011, 25 are still alive.
The whooping crane shot in April was one of the original group of ten. Only one of that number is still alive. Two others were shot and killed near Jennings in October 2011 by two teen boys firing from a truck.
Those boys were quickly found. However, there haven’t been any clues to the perpetrator of the new whooping crane shooting.
LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, and the USFWS each offered $1,000 in reward money for information leading to the conviction of the shooter, for a total of $3,000.
However, they said that private individuals are allowed to increase the reward. A number of donors have already stepped up, including 80-year-old Louisiana retiree John Perilloux. He told The Miami Herald:
“I said, ‘$3,000 is not enough to get somebody to come out and inform.’ So I offered another thousand in the hope that would get published quickly and maybe persuade other people to donate, too.”
With the reward now standing at $10,000, anyone who knows something might be encouraged to speak up.
Also in April, the state announced that a pair of the reintroduced whooping cranes had started working together to build a test. Although the birds are still too young for a successful nest this year, it’s an encouraging sign.
Once a pair of whooping cranes mate and successfully raise a chick, it will be the first wild nesting of the species in Louisiana since 1939.
Unfortunately, the efforts have encountered a sad and unnecessary setback with the new whooping crane shooting.
[captive whooping crane at New Orleans, LA Audubon Zoo photo by Elaine Radford]
[flying wild whooping crane photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service Mountain Prairie region]