It’s deja vu all over again, sadly. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced the death of two Whooping Cranes in Hopkins County, Kentucky. The mated pair was passing through the area last fall as part of Operation Migration, an effort to restore a migrating population of the birds to the eastern United States. Authorities said the deaths occurred in November but delayed the announcement in order to conduct an investigation and assemble a reward for information.
Any loss of the cranes is a huge blow, as the total current population hovers around 600. Making bad news worse, officials speculate that the Whooping Cranes likely weren’t killed by hunters, but instead by thrill-seekers. (What thrill there is in murdering an endangered species, I’ll never know.)
To learn more—and educate others—about Whooping Cranes, there are plenty of resources. The International Crane Foundation is a good start, as are the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, Journey North, and the above-mentioned Operation Migration. Also recommended for insight into the dramatic story of a species brought back from the brink of extinction is The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane by Kathleen Kaska.
Rest in peace, cranes 905 and 733.
(Image above by John Noll/U.S. Department of Agriculture/Wikimedia Commons)
I certainly hope that someone with some courage in Kentucky will turn these sick people in to the USFWS for prosecution. However , I don’t think that $100,000 fine and a year in prison is a tough enough sentence. Anyone with information should call 502-582-5989 ext. 29 or 800-252-5378. The reward is offered for information that leads to an arrest or conviction.
Update: The reward for info leading to the arrest/conviction of the crane-killers is now $15,250.
For more info and who to call if you’ve got leads: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/news/2014/006.html