The International Crane Foundation has added its prestigious voice to the call for apprehension of those killing endangered whooping cranes, and strong penalties for those found guilty. In a letter to all ICF supporters, ICF President Dr. Rich Beilfuss, referenced the most recent shootings of whooping cranes – 2 shot in Kentucky late last year, and 2 discovered in Louisiana, February 7th. “In the past five years, at least 16 whooping cranes have been shot,” Dr. Beilfuss writes, adding that the shootings have happened in all three of the whooping crane populations that exist in the wild.
Dr. Beilfuss urged the friends and members of ICF to get involved by contacting federal officials to ask for stronger sentencing that would recognize “the significance of these crimes.” He cited approvingly, one South Dakota case in which the perpetrator was sentenced to pay an $85,000 fine, and serve two years on probation, and suggested it be used as “a model that should be considered in all Whooping Crane shooting cases to maximize deterrence.”
The Louisiana shootings have occurred since The Badger and the Whooping Crane published “It’s a Federal Crime to Kill a Whooping Crane” about the Kentucky shootings and eight others. Money was immediately offered for information leading to arrests in the Louisiana case, – $1,000, at first, and within days the reward had grown to $15,000 – the same amount that is being offered for information in the Kentucky cases. The people who devote their lives to issues involving conservation, wildlife, and in particular, the endangered whooping crane have all been eager to contribute to these reward funds. All earnestly hope for arrests and sentencing of those responsible.
One injured crane survives the most recent Louisiana shooting. The Advocate of Baton Rouge, LA, reports on the lengthy surgery the bird has undergone, and the long rehabilitation ahead.