Officials seek answers into endangered whooping crane’s shooting death

A whooping crane being raised in captivity before being transferred to Louisiana is seen at the US Geological Survey's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center November 19, 2013 in Laurel, Maryland. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been home to efforts to replenish the whooping crane population since 1967 when scientists used 12 eggs collected from the wild to raise the endangered bird in captivity. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

A whooping crane being raised in captivity before being transferred to Louisiana is seen at the US Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center November 19, 2013 in Laurel, Maryland. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has been home to efforts to replenish the whooping crane population since 1967 when scientists used 12 eggs collected from the wild to raise the endangered bird in captivity. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Officials are searching for information regarding the death of an endangered species, after they discovered the animal had been shot.

The Dallas Zoo said in a social media post on Wednesday, March 13, that a released whooping crane chick from the zoo was found dead with a fatal gunshot wound. The whooping crane, which was released in November 2023, was found on January 9 near Mamou, Louisiana.

“Wildlife conservation is at the heart of everything we do here at the Dallas Zoo. While we often celebrate great success stories, the work we so passionately undertake is often marked by challenges and setbacks beyond our control,” the zoo said in a Facebook post. “As a federally endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, harming whooping cranes in any manner is strictly prohibited.”

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The zoo said the investigation is currently under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the help of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The Dallas Zoo, along with other organizations are offering a $12,500 reward for any information that lead’s to the “arrest and indictment of the person(s) responsible for this incident.”

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“The impact of this significant loss is felt by everyone involved. From the moment the egg arrived from the International Crane Foundation, our animal team dedicated countless hours to hatching, rearing, and providing care until the chick was released by the LDWF team in Louisiana,” the zoo said.

Those with information are asked to reach out to the USFWS at (985) 882-3756 or the LDWF Lake Charles Office at 337-491-2588. The zoo said it is still an active investigation.

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