A citizen tip helps bring closure in the case of a whooping crane shooting in Indiana. John Burke and Jason McCarter of Knox County, Ind. pled guilty and were sentenced on November 21, 2012 for their involvement in the shooting of a whooping crane in Knox County, Ind.

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 has been reached. The crane was last observed alive by an International Crane Foundation volunteer on Saturday, January 07, 2012. On January 21, 2012, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer received voluntary information from a citizen concerning the possible shooting of a whooping crane which 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 and was one of approximately 100 birds left in the eastern fly way.

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 the term of the 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.

Image courtesy U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

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