The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources said today that a $7,200 reward is being offered to anyone with information that directly leads to an arrest or a criminal conviction of those responsible for shooting two Whooping Cranes.
The agencies said the shootings occurred near the Pond River on the line between Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties in western Kentucky.
“On November 25, 2013, the International Crane Foundation received a report from a Hopkins County resident of a Whooping Crane that appeared to be injured,” a statement says. “Initially, the wounded crane was still able to fly but was extremely weakened, and it was rescued on November 27. Among other injuries, the crane’s upper leg was shattered. Attempts to save the bird were unsuccessful, and the crane identified as 5-09 had to be euthanized.”
Around November 14, the crane and its mate, known as 33-07, had arrived in Hopkins County, where they had wintered the previous two years in the area northeast of Madisonville between Highways 85 and 254.
On December 13, signals from a radio transmitter led investigators to the carcass of 33-07 in northeast Muhlenburg County along the Pond River north of Hwy. 70. Investigators believe both cranes, recovered five miles apart, were shot in the same incident.
Contributors to the reward fund include the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation, International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration, St. Marks Refuge Association, Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation, the Environmental Resource Network of Georgia, and Friends of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. The fund continues to grow daily, the agencies said.
Anyone with information about the killings is urged to contact Special Agent Bob Snow at (502) 582-5989, ext. 29, or the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources dispatch at 1-800-25ALERT (800-252-5378). — Matt Mendenhall, Managing Editor
UPDATE, JANUARY 24
The reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction in this case is now $15,250. Additional contributions to the reward fund have come from the Humane Society of the United States, Whooping Crane Conservation Association, the Nature Conservancy Kentucky Chapter, Central Kentucky Hunting Retriever Association, and the Kentucky Ornithological Association. The reward fund continues to grow daily.