DNR asks public for help to stop shootings of EMP Whoopers – 5 deaths in Indiana attributed to poaching

whcr-no-4-11_greene-co-in_5-january-2017_photo-by-indiana-dnr

Whooping Crane No. 4-11 found dead January 5, 2017 along Indiana 67 in Greene County Indiana. Photo by Indiana DNR

January 2017: Female No. 4-11, shot and killed

Indiana Department of Natural Resources officials reported that the remains of No. 4-11, a 5-year old female Whooping Crane of the Eastern Migratory Population (EMP), were found January 5, 2017 in a field along Indiana 67 near the Goose Pond State Fish and Wildlife Area. State officials say preliminary evidence suggests the crane was shot during the New Year’s Day weekend.  In February 2014 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) Whooping Crane No.35-09 was shot and killed in the same area as No. 4-11. At this time it is not known whether the two poachings are related.

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No. 4-11 with her colt W3-16. Photo by Hillary Thompson

Female No. 4-11 successfully hatched her first chick, W3-16, on May 3, 2016 and proved herself to be a good parent when she continued to raise the colt alone after the unexpected death of her mate on their nesting grounds. She and W3-16 were seen during a July 15 aerial survey, but the colt was not seen on July 27 and later was presumed dead.

After leaving Wisconsin, 4-11 migrated to her wintering area at the Goose Pond FWA in mid-December. Goose Pond is now considered a critical wintering area for this eastern population of reintroduced Whooping Cranes, and due to the high concentration of Whoopers found there, 4-11 would likely have re-paired in preparation for the upcoming breeding season.

This latest death brings to a total of  FIVE cranes shot and killed by poachers in Indiana since 2009:
2017: No. 4-11, Greene Co., IN
2014: No. 35-09, Greene Co., IN
2012: No. 27-08, Knox Co., IN
2011: No. 6-05, Jackson Co., IN
2009: No. 17-02 Vermillion Co., IN

Anyone with any information about the poaching is asked to please contact the Indiana Conservation Officer Dispatch at 812-837-9536. In addition to the Endangered Species Act, Whooping Cranes are protected by state laws and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Read more from the International Crane Foundation here:
https://www.savingcranes.org/alleged-whooping-crane-shooting-in-southwestern-indiana/

Learn about No. 4-11’s history here: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/11/BandingCodes1104.html

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February 2014: Direct Autumn Release female No. 35-09, shot and killed

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Photo of No.35-09 as a colt. Photo by Marianne Wellington/Journey North

During the Fall/Winter 2013-2014 biologists replaced both non-functioning transmitters on female No.35-09. She was thought to be with a group of Whooping Cranes reported in Rutherford County, Tennessee on January 24, 2014 and in a group of seven reported in Franklin County, TN on January 29,2014.  Then, during an aerial survey flight on February 12, 2014, her signal was picked up along the White River, south of Lyons in Greene County, Indiana.  When no visual confirmation of No. 35-09 was possible, officials used the electronic signal emitted by a tag that had been previously placed around her neck to eventually locate where her remains had been hidden. Her carcass was collected from that location on February 19, 2014.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources TIP Advisory Board announced a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.
Learn about No. 35-09’s history here:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/09/BandingCodes935D.htmlLearn more about the “Direct Autumn Release (DAR)” program here:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/DARBirds.html
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January 2012: Male No. 27-08, shot and killed

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Male No. 27-08. Photo by Eva Szyszkoski, International Crane Foundation

Whooping Crane No. 27-08 was shot and killed in early January 2012 in Knox County, Indiana. In May 2012 charges were brought against Jason R. McCarter, 21 of Wheatland and John C. Burke, 23 of Monroe City, Illinois after officials received information in mid-January that a Whooping Crane had been spotlighted at night then shot and killed with a high-powered rifle. Suspects were identified during a joint investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, wildlife biologists and private individuals.

Jason McCarter filed a guilty plea agreement for violating the Migratory Bird Act by taking or killing a migratory bird, thus avoiding a criminal trial. The plea agreement included 3 years probation during which he could not hunt, possess or use a firearm or alcohol. In addition to 120 hours of community service to be served at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area he had to pay a $5,000 fine to the International Crane Foundation.

Learn about No. 27-08’s history here:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/08/BandingCodes827.html

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December 2011: Male No. 6-05, shot and killed

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No. 6-05 with seven juvenile DAR Whooping Cranes in Louisville, Jefferson Co., KY in 2011.

Whooping Crane male No. 6-05 (or #506) and seven 2009 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) juveniles spent several days in Jefferson Co., Kentucky before moving on to Adair Co., KY on February 12 or 13, 2011. They stayed there through February 28. In Fall 2011 No. 6-05 migrated with DAR female #37-09 to Jackson Co., IN where he was later killed. His carcass was found on December 30 by a local photographer monitoring the cranes near the Muscatatuck River basin about 40 miles north of Louisville, KY.  X-rays showed a fatal gunshot wound caused the bird’s death. A reward was offered for any information leading to prosecution of the shooter of the federally endangered bird.

Learn more about Whooping Crane No. 6-05’s (#506’s) history here:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/05/BandingCodes506.html

Read more here: https://kyc4sandhillcranes.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/tribtown-whooper-shot_31-dec-2011.png

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Late November 2009: Female No. 17-02, shot and killed

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Whooping Crane eastern reintroduction program “matriarch” No. 17-02 (right), with mate No. 11-02 in March 2008. Photo by Russ Allison

On Saturday, November 28, 2009 Whooping Crane, female No. 17-02 (#217) and her mate, No. 11-02 were observed together at one of their previously used stopovers in Vermillion Co., Indiana by Eva Szyszkoski, International Crane Foundation (ICF) Tracking Field Manager. It is thought No.17-02 was killed soon after this sighting because on Tuesday, December 1 ICF tracking intern Jess Thompson found her carcass.  A victim of senseless joy-killing by poachers.

Her death was especially devastating to the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes reintroduction program as she was the seven-year old mother of “Wild-1,” the first wild-hatched Whooping Crane to survive and fledge to migrate. She and her mate nested during each of the past 5 springs on Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. They hatched two chicks and fledged one (No. W1-06) in 2006, and they hatched one chick in 2009. The pair was known as the “first family” of the new Eastern flock, with No. 17-02 considered the “matriarch” of the program. Her death was a major loss for the reintroduction considering there were approximately 100 cranes in the eastern population at that time.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents conducted a joint investigation into the incident with a citizen tip leading to the arrest of the poachers. Wade Bennett of Cayuga, Indiana pled guilty and was sentenced on March 30, 2011, for his involvement in the shooting of Whooping Crane No. 17-02 in Vermillion County, Indiana. Unfortunately, Bennett and the juvenile received the bare minimum in sentencing – $1.00 fine, one year probation and minor additional fees. The sentence in no way reflected the enormous amount of time, energy and expense invested by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP)International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration and other organizations needed to raise a single Whooping Crane to migration age.

Learn about the history of No. 17-02 here:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/02/BandingCodes217.html

Volunteer information from a local citizen was instrumental on closing the case:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/shooting217_verdict2011.html

Learn about W1-06 (W601), the first wild-hatched Whooping Crane to survive and the first second-generation Whooping crane to successfully make the migration south here:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/06/BandingCodesW601.html


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