Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trio of whooping cranes shot dead in Georgia

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources are investigating the suspicious deaths of three whooping cranes in southern Georgia.
The cranes were found and reported by hunters in Calhoun County, just west of Albany, Ga., on Dec 30. The landowner reported the cranes had been in the area for a few weeks before they found them dead just before New Year’s Eve.

The cranes are part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership effort to reintroduce whooping cranes into the eastern United States. These three cranes were released in October 2010 with seven other first-year birds in Wisconsin as part of the Direct Autumn Release program. They generally follow other older whooping cranes and sometime sandhill cranes during the fall migration to find suitable wintering habitat. They were banded and equipped with transmitters and were part of the ultralight aircraft-led migration effort.

Wildlife scientists determined three whooping cranes found dead in southern Georgia in December were shot and killed.

Preliminary testing shows the cranes sustained injuries consistent with gunshot wounds, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service news release.


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