Citizen Tip Helps Close the Knox County Indiana Whooping Crane Case
By Tina Shaw
A citizen tip helped bring closure in the case of a whooping crane shooting in Indiana. John Burke and Jason McCarter, of Knox County, Ind., plead guilty and were sentenced in November 2012 for their involvement in the shooting of a whooping crane.
Wildlife law enforcement agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and Indiana Department of Natural Resources investigated the case and report that a plea agreement was reached.
The crane was last seen alive by an International Crane Foundation volunteer, Jan. 7, 2012. On January 21, 2012, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer received information from a citizen concerning the possible shooting of a whooping crane. That information led to charges against McCarter and Burke.
The whooping crane killed was taught its migratory path by ultra light aircraft and belonged to a nesting pair. It was one of approximately 100 birds left in the eastern flyway.
Burke and McCarter were charged and sentenced in United States District Court, in Terre Haute, Ind. As part of the plea agreement, Burke and McCarter each received: three years probation, are required to pay a donation of $5,000 to the International Crane Foundation, must perform 120 hours community service at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, and are not allowed to hunt during their probation.
In addition to the Endangered Species Act, whooping cranes are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws. An investigation into the killing of a second whooping crane in Jackson County continues. Anyone with information can call the Turn In A Poacher hotline at 1-800-TIP-IDNR.