BirdWatching reader doubles reward in crane shooting

shooting a Whooping Crane
A Whooping Crane in Louisiana. Photo by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

The lead article in the February 19, 2020, edition of the BirdWatching e-newsletter reported on the illegal shooting of a Whooping Crane in November 2019 in Louisiana. Our story notes that $5,000 was being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

Now, that amount is $10,000.

After seeing the article in our newsletter, Dave Weeshoff of La Crescenta, California, offered to double the reward money. I didn’t know Weeshoff and didn’t know if he was serious, but in case he was, I connected him with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and the state biologists who work on Whooper recovery. They were understandably thrilled, and they soon confirmed that Weeshoff was indeed serious. A few days ago, the state’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the additional reward funds.

I asked Weeshoff why he donated the reward money. “All avian species are under existential threats of all kinds, including climate change and the weakening of federal protection regulations,” he said. “I felt that encouraging the identification and prosecution of violent human predators was something I could do in this situation.”

Fifteen year ago, Weeshoff retired from a career at IBM, and “with absolutely no knowledge of birds, I began volunteering at International Bird Rescue in San Pedro, California.” There he helps to rehabilitate more than 4,000 sick, injured, orphaned, or oiled aquatic birds of over 70 species each year, in two large, specially designed centers.

“Once you have held and ministered to a large Brown Pelican, a 7-foot-winged Laysan Albatross, a 4-foot-tall Great Blue Heron, or a tiny Killdeer, you begin to appreciate the amazing adaptions and behaviors of birds of all species,” he said. “You then develop a passion to help preserve them through conservation and protecting them from anthropogenic activities including ocean pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction — and intentional mutilation and killing.”

Weeshoff has traveled extensively to see birds, including on pelagic and polar trips. He has seen Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska and elsewhere and Whooping Cranes in Florida. He supports Audubon and other non-governmental organizations that fight ocean pollution and climate change and offer bird-related classroom education.

And this is not the first time he has offered reward money, having done so previously in cases involving the intentional shooting or mutilation of Brown Pelicans and California Condors, among others.

Here’s hoping his generous donation helps catch the criminal or criminals who took a Whooping Crane’s life.

The Whooping Crane’s cloudy future

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. He joined the staff of BirdWatching (formerly Birder’s World) in 2000 and has worn many hats over the years: reporter, story wrangler, photo editor, managing editor, and now editor. Originally from Omaha, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. You can reach Matt at (617) 706-9098 and [email protected].

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