2 endangered whooping cranes shot in Louisiana
Two endangered whooping cranes were shot with birdshot by an unknown assailant in southwest Louisiana Thursday. They were discovered Friday near Roanoke in Jefferson Davis Parish. Reportedly the cranes were “building practice nests” when a female was killed and a male was seriously injured.
Robert Love of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said they were the only pair of endangered whooping cranes to have formed a mating bond even though the birds were actually not quite old enough to produce any eggs. He added: “They were some of our older birds and our best chance for having a more successful nest this year. It’s just sickening.”
An anonymous landowner had alerted authorities earlier in the week that the pair of endangered whooping cranes had been “hanging about” with a big flock of snow geese. While the state’s goose hunting season is currently open Love does not believe this could have been an accident. He states: “There’s no mistaking a snow goose for a whooping crane.”
Adult whooping cranes are approximately 5 feet tall from their red caps down to their black and gray feet and have slender, long bills and a wingspan well over seven feet. Geese are shorter, all white and have short bills. The state and federally-protected birds are reported to be 2 of among approximately only 600.
They are some of the planet’s rarest birds descended from 15 others that inhabited coastal Texas in the 1940s. 50 birds were tagged with radio transmitters and released in hopes of creating a new flock like the birds that once inhabited the area. Presently only 32 still live.
According to Adam Einck, spokesman for the department’s enforcement division, the dead female was from the second group to be released in 2011. The injured male is the sole survivor of the first group to be released earlier that year. Einck reported that while it will probably live it may never fly again because “one of its wings was pretty badly damaged.” A $1,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the identity of the shooter.
(Image courtesy of All About Birds )