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$6000 for tips in shooting of endangered whooping crane

About 850 are alive; the 78 in Louisiana are among about 660 in the wild.
Credit: AP
In this March 13, 2019 photo provided by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and taken by a trail cam, biologist Eva Szyszkoski uses brooms to fend off a pair of nesting whooping cranes, so biologist Sara Zimorski, right, can replace a data logging egg with the cranes' real egg in Jefferson Davis, La. Spy eggs may help Louisiana biologists learn why some whooping crane chicks die in the egg, while others hatch. State biologists swap egg-shaped data loggers for one of the two eggs that many cranes lay. The real eggs are incubated at Audubon Nature Institute until they’re nearly ready to hatch. Then biologists swap them back. The fakes give up their data through an infrared connection. (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries via AP)

NEW ORLEANS — Rewards totaling $6,000 are being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot an endangered whooping crane more than a year ago.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is re-offering most of a $7,500 reward made public earlier this year. Whooping cranes are among the world's most endangered birds. About 850 are alive; the 78 in Louisiana are among about 660 in the wild.

The reward is for information about a crane released in December 2016 and found with a broken wing Nov. 2, 2018, in Acadia Parish. It was taken to a veterinarian but had to be euthanized, and a necropsy showed it had been shot.

Four groups or agencies and one individual are offering rewards of $1,000 to $2,000, a news release Monday said. A total of $7,500 in rewards offered in February went unclaimed. A couple of those donors were unable to continue their offers, Adam Einck, spokesman for the department's enforcement division, said in an email Tuesday.

“We haven’t received enough information that would lead to arrest at this time and are hoping this re-release will help more people come forward,” he said.

Lizzie Condon, whooping crane outreach coordinator for the International Crane Foundation, has said that the nine whooping cranes shot in Louisiana is the highest total of any state or Canadian province where the 5-foot-tall (1.5-meter-tall) birds are found.

A total of 158 cranes have been released in Louisiana since 2011, when state and federal authorities began an attempt to build a self-sustaining, non-migrating flock.

Whooping cranes are North America's tallest birds and their black-tipped wings span nearly 7 feet (2.1 meters). Overhunting and habitat loss cut their numbers to 21 in the 1940s, about 15 of them in a flock that migrates between southeastern Texas and Calgary, Canada. That flock — the only self-sustaining one — now numbers about 500.

Condon said in November that Texas has had eight killings since the birds were declared endangered in 1967. She said Indiana has had five shot and killed since 2001, when ultralight aircraft first were used to teach whooping cranes to migrate between Wisconsin and Florida. That flock numbers about 100.

The remaining 150 or so are in captivity. Captive-bred juvenile whooping cranes are released each year in Louisiana and Wisconsin.

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