A SORROWFUL START TO THE NEW YEAR

Regrettably, the first news of 2012 we bring you is sad and upsetting. Another Whooping crane has been shot.

We were advised late yesterday that 6-05 was found dead in Indiana by resident Dan Kaiser. Dan found the crane in Jackson County, not far from the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, a former stopover location when the ultralight-led migration used a more easterly migration route.

This is the second shooting of a Whooping crane in Indiana. The first occurred in 2009 when 17-02, the seven year old matriarch of the “First Family”, was killed.

In 2006, female 17-02 and her mate 11-02, (dubbed the First Family) the only successful breeding pair in the reintroduced Eastern Migratory Population at the time, hatched, reared, and migrated a chick, Wild 1-06. Their offspring, Wild 1-06, was the first wild, migratory Whooping crane hatched in eastern North America in more than a century.

17-02 was shot and killed in central Vermillion County, IN. The pair had been observed by WCEP trackers in late November, but by December 1st when subsequently checked, 17-02 was missing. Tracker Jess Thompson eventually found her remains in a ravine near a rural road.

Two culprits were eventually identified (one a juvenile) and they pled guilty to the shooting. Their punishment, which drew the outrage and the ire of many in the wildlife conservation community, was one year of probation and a $1 fine.

In the face of the struggle to safeguard these rare birds from extinction, this shooting, added to the three cranes shot in Georgia in December of last year, the two in Alabama in February 2011, and most recently, two (and perhaps three) in Louisiana, at best, can only be described as disheartening. Ironically, the Louisiana cranes, killed by juveniles firing from a vehicle, died on the same day OM launched its 2011 ultralight-led migration in the hope of boosting the numbers of  the slowly growing reintroduced population.

At the time of the Louisiana shootings, Dr. John French, Research Manager, at the U.S.G.S. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland where the majority of all reintroduced Whooping cranes are hatched and reared, said….

“These cranes – including each of those senselessly killed by people – represent an investment of hope for Whooping cranes to wing their way back to a more certain future. And with only about 430 Whooping cranes now in the wild, each bird counts.

Each such death is a robbery of the investment made by the American public, and negates countless hours of careful work by scientists, aviculturists, volunteers, and others toward the conservation of this magnificent bird.”

At present, we have no further details on the killing of 6-05 beyond what has appeared in various news stories. Below are links to several articles that have been posted to the internet.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-in-whoopingcraneshot,0,4952306.story

http://wcsi.whiterivernews.com/templates/localnews_temp.asp?id=4323&storyno=2

http://www.whas11.com/news/local/Endangered-bird-shot-in-Ind-136486983.html

http://www.tribtown.com/articles/shot-34081-bird-brownstown.html

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