Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

April 23, 2012

Contacts:

Brad Merrill, 605-224-9045
SDGF&P TIP Hotline, 1-888-OVERBAG (683-7224)

Reward for Information Leading to Identification of the Person Responsible for Shooting a Whooping Crane Near Miller, South Dakota

A reward has been offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the shooting of a whooping crane located along 354th Avenue, approximately 17 miles southwest of Miller, South Dakota.

Law enforcement officers from the Service and the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks are investigating the shooting which took place Friday afternoon on April 20, 2012.  The migrating adult whooping crane was traveling with two additional whooping cranes before being shot with a high-power rifle as it was standing in a corn field.

Anyone with information should call either the 24-hour Turn in a Poacher Hotline at 1-888-OVERBAG (683-7224) or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 605-224-9045 to report any information which will aid officers in the apprehension of the shooter.  Callers can remain anonymous. 

Observations and other information reported by the public play a key role in solving wildlife crime, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Brad Merrill.

The whooping crane is among one of the rarest birds in the world with a total population of approximately 600 individuals worldwide, which includes captive raised whooping cranes.  The crane which was killed, its mate, and their sub-adult whooping crane were among less than 300 whooping cranes migrating from their wintering grounds found in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge along the Texas Gulf Coast to Woods Buffalo State Park located in Alberta and the Northwest Territories in Canada.  This population of cranes is the only self-sustaining population of whooping cranes in the world.

In addition to the Endangered Species Act, whooping cranes are protected by state laws and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Shortly after the Service announced its reward, the Whooping Crane Conservation Association announced its own reward. More information here: http://t.co/6hIeD9Zx.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/.

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-FWS-