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.
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:
Learn about No. 4-11’s history here: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/crane/11/BandingCodes1104.html
February 2014: Direct Autumn Release female No. 35-09, shot and killed
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.
January 2012: Male No. 27-08, shot and killed
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:
December 2011: Male No. 6-05, shot and killed
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:
Read more here: https://kyc4sandhillcranes.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/tribtown-whooper-shot_31-dec-2011.png
Late November 2009: Female No. 17-02, shot and killed
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:
Volunteer information from a local citizen was instrumental on closing the case:
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:
TN Wildlife Resources Agency seeks public comment on 2017-2018 Sandhill Crane hunting season
According to a source at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the Mississippi Flyway Council met in late August where they voted on and submitted recommendations to USFWS regarding frameworks for the 2017-18 hunting seasons and bag limits, based on this year’s population and harvest data. The recommendations also included a request for operational status of Tennessee’s Sandhill Crane hunting season (now entering its fourth year “experimental” season). The Service Regulation Committee considers the Flyways recommendations and will publish a set of proposed frameworks in the Federal Register. At that time, the USFWS will accept public comment on the proposed frameworks. Shortly after the comment period, they will make any necessary adjustments to the frameworks and then finalize them. These become the overall set of “rules” under which each state can establish their hunting seasons.
The deadline for your comments to TWRA is November 15, 2016.
The following is the TWRA press release:
“The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is soliciting comments for its 2017-18 waterfowl and other migratory bird hunting regulations, including sandhill cranes. This is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas and share concerns about hunting regulations with TWRA staff. The comment period is open Oct. 15-Nov. 15, 2016.
Due to recent changes in the timing of the federal regulation process, waterfowl and other migratory game bird hunting seasons are now proposed to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission at its January meeting and voted upon at its February meeting.
Public comments will be considered by TWRA’s Wildlife Division staff and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes. Comments may be submitted by mail to: 2017-18 Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife and Forestry Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to email@example.com. Please include “Waterfowl Season Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.”
Additional information: The number of permits issued for 2017-2018 TN hunting season remains the same as the 2015-2016 season, 400 permits – 3 cranes per permit. However, the 2016-2017 season has been extended from 28 days to 53 days. The hunt zone also remains in southeastern Tennessee – South of Interstate 40 and east of State Highway 56. Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge is within this zone. The hunt will be stopped only for the weekend of the annual Sandhill Crane Festival. With the issuance of the new rules there is the distinct possibility that the hunt will be extended statewide, with an increase in both the number of permits issued and the number of cranes allowed to be killed.