For the fifth time in recent years, a highly-endangered whooping crane has been shot to death in Indiana.
The dead crane was discovered following the New Year’s holiday weekend south of Lyons, Indiana in Greene County near the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife area. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is working alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate the killing.
The bird’s carcass has been sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s forensic lab in Oregon to glean more specific information on how the whooper was killed and a reward of $2500 had been offered in the case.
The whooping crane is one of the largest and most endangered birds in North America but also represents a great conservation success story. Two decades ago there were only 21 birds alive but the total is now estimated around 450 animals. Of that number, about 104 of them are part of the Eastern U.S. migrating flock that passes through Indiana.
Part of the challenge in establishing the wild eastern flock was teaching formerly-captive birds to migrate from summer breeding grounds near Baraboo, Wisconsin to a safe winter home in Florida. This resulted in the widely-known program “Operation Migration” that used ultralight aircraft to lead flocks of the birds on their annual migrations. That route passes right through the heart of Indiana.
The animal that was killed, known as 4-11, was hatched in 2011 at Pawtuxet Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and was re-introduced to the flock in Wisconsin. She often wintered at Goose Pond along with several other whoopers that are currently in residence at the fish and wildlife area.
Anyone with information in the case can call 1-800-TIP-IDNR to submit information in the case. Tips leading up to an arrest or conviction of the person responsible for the crane death can receive all or part of the $2500 reward.
Whooping cranes – from the Ornithology Lab at Cornell University