Alleged Whooping Crane Shooting in Southwestern Indiana

Media Contact: Sara Gavney Moore, 608-356-9462 ext. 155

Authorities investigating alleged shooting and request information on this crime.

Lyons, Ind. (January 4, 2017) – The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed the alleged shooting of an endangered Whooping Crane on her wintering grounds in Greene County, Indiana, making this event the third Whooping Crane shooting in this region. An investigation of the shooting, which likely occurred over the New Year’s weekend, is ongoing by the Indiana DNR in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Whooping Crane 4-11 raised her chick, W3-16 (pictured), by herself after the unexpected death of her mate this summer. 4-11 and her mate nested in Wood County in central Wisconsin.

The Whooping Crane, known as 4-11, was hatched in 2011 at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland and reintroduced in Wisconsin by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, a group of non-profit and government agencies working to return Whooping Cranes to the eastern United States. The 5-year-old female was only one of 100 birds that migrate between Wisconsin and states along the Eastern Migratory Flyway. She successfully hatched her first chick this summer in central Wisconsin, and continued to raise the chick on her own after the unexpected death of her mate on their nesting grounds. The needless death of a valuable breeding female underscores the severity of this loss in the fragile population.

“The loss of a breeding female is tragic for this population. This female not only successfully hatched a chick this year, but also raised the chick to near independence on her own. This shooting isn’t just the loss of an individual in this population, it is the loss of future generations,” notes Anne Lacy, Crane Research Coordinator.

No. 4-11 migrated to her wintering area at the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in mid-December. Goose Pond is a critical wintering area for this population of reintroduced Whooping Cranes, and due to the high concentration of other cranes 4-11 would have likely re-paired on her wintering grounds in preparation for the upcoming breeding season.

“We are deeply concerned by this news of another Whooping Crane shooting and are putting all of our resources into helping to raise awareness of this criminal act. We will not allow this event to set the tone for the New Year and are committed to ensure that justice is served for any future senseless shootings,” said Dr. Rich Beilfuss, President and CEO of the International Crane Foundation.

Over the past five years, more than 20 Whooping Cranes have been shot and killed in the United States, including the first shooting in the Goose Pond area in 2009. In this case, the defendant was charged a deeply disappointing $1.00 fine plus court fees for their crime. This result is in sharp contrast to the October 2016 ruling on two Whooping Crane shootings in eastern Texas, where the defendant was tried under the Endangered Species Act and was ordered to pay over $25,000 in restitution, along with 200 hours of community service, five years’ probation, and loss of hunting license and firearms for five years.

Authorities request that any information on this crime is reported to the Indiana Conservation Officer Dispatch at 812-837-9536.


About the International Crane Foundation

The International Crane Foundation plays a leading role in the conservation of Whooping Cranes, from managed breeding and release programs to habitat protection, citizen education and engagement, and threat reduction along their flyways. Learn more about the International Crane Foundation and its work to protect Endangered Whooping Cranes at www.savingcranes.org.

About the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership

The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership is a group of agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals, formed to restore to eastern North America, a migratory population of Whooping Cranes. More information about the partnership is available at www.bringbackthecranes.org.