Four Endangered Whooping Cranes Shot And Killed In Oklahoma

December 20, 2021 FOX23.com News Staff

KIOWA COUNTY, Okla. — The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) reported that four whooping cranes were recently shot and killed in Oklahoma. The whooping crane is an endangered species, and it is against the law to kill, harm or harass the bird.

The ODWC is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to investigate the deaths that happened near Tom Steed Lake in Kiowa County.

One whooping crane was discovered by hunters who notified ODWC game wardens. It died while being taken to a veterinarian clinic.

The USFWS’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory determined a shotgun wound was the cause of death.

Three more dead whooping cranes were found where the first crane was found, bringing the loss to four. All of the deaths are being investigated by ODWC and USFWS.

“This is sickening to see such a wanton waste of wildlife, and our Game Wardens are very eager to visit with the individual or individuals who committed this crime,” said Wade Farrar, Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement with the Wildlife Department.

“Somebody out there knows something that will help in this investigation, and I trust that they will do the right thing and come forward.”

The total whooping crane population is estimated at 500 birds in North America. They travel through Oklahoma during migrations to and from their breeding grounds in Texas. Most Oklahoma sightings are reported from mid-October through November.

A conviction for killing a whooping crane can carry up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine per person under the Endangered Species Act, and up to six months in jail and a $15,000 fine under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Anyone with information regarding the deaths of the whooping cranes is asked to contact the Wildlife Department’s Operation Game Thief at 918-331-5555 or the USFWS’ Office of Law Enforcement in Fort Worth, Texas, at 817-334-5202. Callers with information may remain anonymous.

Cash rewards are being offered for information leading to a conviction.