Whooping Crane killed in Ontario, raptors found slain in California

Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane. Photo by Karel Bock/Shutterstock

Two recent cases of crimes against birds have come to our attention.

Whooping Crane killed

Authorities in Ontario are seeking the public’s help in to determine who was involved in the fatal shooting of an endangered Whooping Crane on Barrie Island. The island is located in the North Channel of Lake Huron.

The crane was a two-year-old female from the eastern migratory population. The bird was first seen on Barrie Island around April 21, and according to the Manitoulin West Recorder, it was “perhaps the first bird of its kind to be seen in the district of Algoma-Manitoulin.”

The bird was shot on the evening of May 5. Anyone with any information concerning the shooting is being asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Several Whooping Cranes from the eastern and Louisiana populations have been killed by poachers in the last 10 years; this is the first known shooting of one in Canada.

159 dead birds on a California ranch

The San Jose Mercury News recently published a story about the investigation into a rancher in northeastern California. He pled guilty to 10 misdemeanor counts of illegally taking birds after conservation officers discovered the carcasses of 159 dead birds on his 80-acre ranch. The victims included Red-tailed and Ferruginous Hawks, Northern Harriers, Northern Flickers, Black-billed Magpies, and a Great Horned Owl.

The article explains that officers from the California Department of Fish and Game worked covertly, dressing in plain clothes and using spotting scopes to watch the ranch from afar.

“After witnessing several potential violations, they had probable cause to get a search warrant,” writes reporter Lisa Krieger. “A squad of seven officers, with dogs, were quickly deployed to the 80-acre ranch in a remote sagebrush steppe landscape that is famed for its migratory birds. Located in the upper northeast corner of the Northern Sierra Cascade Range, where snowmelt drains into the large and shallow Honey Lake, the region is a fertile wetland area, which attracts many diverse species.”

Rancher Richard Parker, 68, was “sentenced to 90 days in county jail and $75,000 in fines and restitution, including $36,000 to reimburse the state’s investigative costs and $20,000 to Lassen County to restore and protect the local raptor population,” Krieger writes. “During five years of probation, he’s prohibited from hunting and fishing and can’t own firearms. The two guns used to kill the birds have been destroyed.”

 

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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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