The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is seeking leads in the shooting of an endangered whooping crane in Vermilion Parish.
The crane, brought to Louisiana as part of a project to reestablish the endangered bird here, was found Nov. 2 just south of Zaunbrecher Road near Gueydan with a suspected bullet wound to its left leg. It was euthanized the next day.
A necrospy has confirmed the crane was shot in the leg, Wildlife and Fisheries officials announced Wednesday.
Wildlife and Fisheries, the Humane Society of the United States and other donors are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information on the shooting.
The crane, released to the wild in January 2014, is the sixth whooping crane to have been shot since a project was launched in 2011 to reintroduce the birds to their native habitat.
The whooping crane is one of the rarest and largest birds in the world, growing up to 5 feet tall with a 7-foot wingspan.
“Anytime we lose one of these cranes, it sets us back in our efforts to restore the whooping crane population to its historic levels in Louisiana,” Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham said in a news release. “These cranes were once native birds to Louisiana, and the department would like to see them thrive again in the future with a sustainable population.”
Whooping cranes disappeared from the Louisiana landscape by 1950, the victim of habitat loss and hunting.
The last sighting of the cranes in Louisiana was in the White Lake area in Vermilion Parish.
The new arrivals are being released at the state’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area near Gueydan.
Anyone with information about the recent shooting is asked to call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 442-2511.