(GREENE CO.) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to apprehend those responsible for the killing of a whooping crane near Lyons. A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible the killing of this endangered bird.
An International Crane Foundation volunteer found the crane on January 3, near Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area. This 8,000 acre protected area of prairie and marsh habitat is frequented by cranes. While initial findings show that the bird was killed by a high-powered rifle, the carcass has been sent to our National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon for confirmation.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources officials say that remains of the 5-year-old female crane were found in a field along Indiana 67 near the Goose Pond State Fish and Wildlife Area.
State officials say preliminary evidence suggests the bird was shot during the New Year's Day weekend. State officials say there are only about 120 whooping cranes in the U.S. and they are federally endangered species.
Conservation Officer Nathan Lutz says the crane had a radio transmitter and was banded and had been tracked for several years. She had a chick last spring but it didn't survive.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Department of Natural Resources officers in investigating the case.
Officials say information from concerned citizens has been helpful in closing wildlife crime cases in the past and it could also make the difference in this case. Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call (317) 346-7017.
Whooping cranes are protected by the Endangered Species Act, the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws. The legal protections and reintroduction effort have helped the whooping crane population recover from a few dozen in the 1940s to about 500 in the wild today, but its status remains fragile. The whooping crane killed in Greene County was part of an effort to establish an eastern continental flock on a migratory path between Wisconsin and Florida that takes them through Indiana.
Learn more about the protected status of whooping cranes: https://www.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane/
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