Louisiana Whooping Cranes News
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by John Sheldon Perilloux


twin whoopers
These whooping cranes were photographed near the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas in 2002.
The two young ones (twins), still with some of their cinnamon coloration, made the 2,500-mile migration flight
from Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada to the vicinity of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near
Austwell, TX, when less than 1-year-old. The pure white bird is a parent.


Whooper eggs

These two whooping crane eggs, layed by one of the members of the reintroduced flock in Louisiana, are the first whooping crane eggs layed in Louisiana in more than 75 years. It is a promising start for the reestablishment of a resident flock in Louisiana after an absence of that bird from our state for more than 65 years.
Funding is needed for ongoing work in this program. Make your checks out to:
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation and mail to:
LWFF
PO Box 80378
Baton Rouge, LA 70898-0378


10 Mar 2014 - The whooping crane shot in Jeff Davis Parish, which was being treated for wing damage, has died. This was the last surviving bird of the 10 released near Gueydan in early 2011. The Louisiana Legislature will have to enact legislation making killing or harming these birds costly in terms of fines. I don't believe any of the five birds that were killed, and possibly a sixth, were killed by hunters. The people shooting these whooping cranes are simply ignorant people with guns who see these large birds as inviting targets. A letter or email to your state representative and state senator would help. My state representative apparently is not interested in this since he failed to reply to two emails. However, my state senator expressed an interest and said that he would contact the Louisiana Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries for more informaton.


12 Feb 2014 - A total of 50 whooping cranes have been released in Louisiana under the whooping crane reintroduction program, and of that number only 32 are still alive. Four, and possibly five, were shot in Jefferson Davis Parish, two of them just last week, and one was shot in Red River Parish. Three of those in Jeff Davis Parish were killed outright, a fourth suffered serious wing damage and the fifth is still unaccounted for nine months later. The $15,000 reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the Red River Parish shooting has not brought forward any information, and since ten months have gone by, this reward will probably go uncollected.
A $15,000 reward has also been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who shot the two whooping cranes in Jeff Davis Parish last week.
The whooping crane reintroduction program in Louisiana was begun in 2010 with the release of 10 young cranes near Gueydan. Of those 10, only 1 is still alive, and that's the one with the severe wing injury from a shotgun blast struggling to survive at an LSU care center . The Louisiana Legislature will have to pass tough laws protecting these birds if the reintroduction program is to succeed.


3 Jan 2014 - 10 more juvenile whooping cranes were released into the wild today at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area near Gueydan, bringing to 50 the total number of releases in Louisiana since the reintroduction program began.
2 Jul 2013 - The reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who shot a whooping crane in Red River Parish, LA, has grown to $15,000. However, given the amount of time that has passed since the shooting it is unlikely that anyone will come forward. If any group or person wants to donate funds to increase the reward amount, please contact LDWF Biologist Sara Zimorski at szimorski@wlf.la.gov or 337-536-9400 ext. 4. To report any information regarding this whooping crane shooting, please call 1-800-442-2511.

13 Jun 2013 - It appears that the marshes of southwest Louisiana do not suit the whooping cranes that have been released near Gueydan. Two of them wandered off and have been spotted near Decatur, TX, northwest of Dallas and about 460 miles from Gueydan. Now another five have been spotted in Polk county in east Texas and have since then moved farther north in Texas. It's going to be hard to keep people interested and contributing to the reintroduction program if these birds are not going to stay in Louisiana. There doesn't appear to be very much interest now.


6 Jun 2013 - Red River Parish is a rural area located between Alexandria, LA and Shreveport, LA. Sometime between 10 Apr and 14 Apr 2013, someone firing a rifle using a 6.5mm round containing polymer material shot a whooping crane on the bank of the Red River in that parish. Whooping cranes are protected by federal and state laws, but this didn't stop that person from shooting what he thought was a great target.
This caliber rifle is relatively unusual to be used for hunting, and the bullet used in killing the crane is also unusual. In addition, there was no open hunting season for anything requiring a rifle to kill, so obviously this person was not hunting. He saw the whooper, thought it was a large and inviting target and shot and killed it.
There is now a $10,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of the shooter. Anyone with information can call 1-800-442-2511. That $10,000 would look good in your bank account.


20 May 2013 - Of the 40 whooping cranes hatched at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, and flown to Louisiana for release into the wild under the reintroduction program, 25 remain alive. Only 1 of the 10 that arrived in Feb 2011 remains from that cohort, 11 of the 16 from the 12/1/2011 group and 13 of the 14 from the 11/29/2012 cohort. At least 3 of the deaths were due to shootings, some were due to predation, and the fate of the remainder is unknown.
Although these birds have been designated as "nonessential", a harder line has to be taken against those who shoot them. The two juvenile delinquents in Jefferson Davis Parish who shot and killed two, and possibly a third, received basically no punishment. They were not charged by the sheriff's office with discharging a firearm from a public roadway, a violation of Louisiana law. Their parents were not charged with allowing these juveniles to have unsupervised possession of firearms. The person who shot the whooping crane on the bank of the Red River in Red River Parish, probably between 10 Apr and 14 Apr 2013, hasn't been apprehended and may never be, despite a $9,750 reward offered to anyone who can provide information leading to his arrest.
Louisiana can do better than this.


17 May 2013 - Another whooping crane has been shot in Louisiana, this one in Red River Parish. A reward of $9,750 has been offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the person or persons who shot this bird. This whooping crane was one of 16 released at White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WCA) in Gueydan on 27 Dec 2011. It is the second whooper to meet an untimely death in Red River Parish, but wildlife officials believe the other death there was caused by a predator.
To report any information regarding this whooping crane shooting, please call 1-800-442-2511.
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11 May 2013 - Of the 10 whooping cranes brought to Louisiana as part of the 2010 cohort, only one is left alive after the other survivor from that cohort died in Red River Parish, possibly as a result of a predator attack.
Two of the birds from the 2012 cohort were spotted near Dallas, TX, on 2 May 2013. Since migration is a learned trait, it isn't known why these two whoopers flew to this area, which is quite a distance from the White Lake release area in Louisiana. These birds are roaming quite far from their release area. Red River Parish is about 185 miles from the White Lake release area, and Dallas is about 380 miles.
Of the 40 whooping cranes brought to Louisiana under the reintroduction program, 26 are known to remain alive. Two, and possibly a third, were shot and killed by juvenile delinquents in Jefferson Davis Parish, some were killed by predators and their remains were found, one had nerve damage and a lung infection and had to be euthanized while others simply disappeared.
There are many very dedicated individuals working very hard in this reintroduction program, and they deserve all the help we can give them.


7 Dec 2012 - On 29 Nov 2012 14 more young whooping cranes were flown from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, to the LDWF White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Gueydan, LA. This was the third cohort of whooping cranes brought to Louisiana under the whooping crane reintroduction program. This appears to have been such a low-key, unpublicized event that I was not aware of it until I read the news release on the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site on 5 Dec 2012.

We can't get the public involved and supportive of this program with this kind of lack of publicity.


21 Oct 2012 - Of the 26 Whoopers reintroduced in Louisiana ten in 2010 and sixteen in 2011 only fourteen still survive. The two surviving 2010 cranes continue to remain alone, but a group of seven of the surviving 2011 chicks continue to travel together.
Two of the birds were shot and killed by juvenile delinquents firing rifles from a public roadway in Jefferson Davis Parish. Discharging a firearm from a public roadway in Louisiana is a violation of Louisiana law, but these two delinquents were never prosecuted for these violations. They were both below the age for unsupervised possession of firearms, but I have read no accounts of their parents having been prosecuted in this case.
Since these reintroduced whoopers were declared as "nonessential", the juveniles received a mere slap on the wrist for these crimes. It was a mistake to declare these birds as "nonessential", since they deserve the same degree of protection as the wild flocks.
The Louisiana flock will receive at the White Lake release site on 28 Nov six more males and eight more female cranes currently being raised at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.

Whooping Cranes

These three whooping cranes were seen together a few days before two of them were shot. The two were found dead the next day. The third has never been found.


17 Nov 2011 - On 9 Oct 2011, two juvenile delinquents shot two whooping cranes in Jefferson Davis Parish. The two were found dead the next day, and a third which was seen with them a few days before has never been found. An eyewitness saw this and gave a description to the sheriff's office of the truck in which the JD's were riding.
As of this date the JD's haven't been arrested or charged. The sheriff's office said they didn't know what to charge them with. I have a suggestion, sheriff. Charge them at least with discharging a firearm from a public roadway. That's against the law in Louisiana. It's also against the law for someone under 17 to be in unsupervised possession of a firearm.
Too many people, including me, are working too hard and contributing money in an attempt to save these birds from extinction for this incident to be allowed to just fade away without prosecution of the JD's and their parents. I say parents because both of them are under the age of 17 and shouldn't have had unsupervised possession of firearms.


The Plight of the Whooping Cranes

3 Nov 2011 - I first became aware of the very real possibility of whooping cranes going extinct in Miss Williams' Civics class in 1948. At that time there were only 16 whooping cranes left alive. There were one or two still alive in a resident flock in Louisiana, and the rest were in a migratory flock that spent its winters in south Texas and in far northern Canada in late Spring, Summer and early Autumn. This 2,400 mile flight path was not yet covered with power lines, microwave towers, 300-foot radio station antennas, wind turbines and other hazards encountered by the whooping cranes on their migration flights in Spring and Autumn as it is today. These obstacles take their toll on the whoopers, along with diseases, hunters and simply ignorant people who shoot these great birds just for the "sport" of it.

In 1937 President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order designating the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in south Texas as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. These birds are federally protected by Canadian and U.S. laws on their migrations and refuges in both countries.


Grus Americana

I photographed these whooping cranes at the Audubon Park Zoo in New Orleans in October 2004

More Louisiana Whooping Cranes News
Operation Migration
Operation Migration Whooping Crane Cam
Journey North
Reporting Whooping Crane Sightings
Whooping Crane Conservation Association

Night Watch