It has been confirmed a Whooping Crane was shot and killed by a hunter on Jan. 12 near St. Joseph’s Island. A report of the incident was initially posted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) on its website, but later removed. According to the TPWD, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken over the investigation.
St. Joseph’s Island neighbors Matagorda Island and is utilized by a good number of the Whooping cranes who spend winters at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
According to the Rockport Pilot, Captain Henry Balderamas, district supervisor of Region V, District V of the Law Enforcement Division of the TPWD affirmed a Whooping Crane had been shot. A report had been taken by a game warden after the hunter turned himself in and reported the incident.
James Hampton, resident agent with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Houston, said Monday, Feb. 25, “It is being investigated and I cannot comment on it until it is adjudicated.” He added, “I am hopeful it can be resolved within the next couple of weeks.”
Under federal law, killing a whooping crane carries a maximum penalty of $100,000 and a year in prison. Earlier this month a Miller, SD man pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Federal Endangered Species Act and was sentenced for killing an adult male whooping crane. His sentence is $85,000 in restitution, two years probation, and a $25 assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund. The man was also ordered to forfeit the rifle he used in the offense and is prohibited from hunting, fishing, or trapping anywhere in the United States for two years.