Reward climbs to more than $11,000 for information on killing of endangered whooping crane

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GREENE COUNTY, Ind. — An endangered bird was found shot to death in southern Indiana, and $11,500 in reward money is being offered to help catch the shooter.

Indiana conservation officers have partnered with more than a half dozen groups to increase the reward.

In a remote field in Greene County, the endangered bird was found intentionally shot to death in early January.

“This was not a hunting accident. This was not an accident by any means,” said Indiana conservation officer Nathan Lutz. “It’s not that somebody accidentally shot this bird and then tried to cover it. This was an intentional shooting.”

The bird, known as 4-11 before it was killed, had been one of just 450 whooping cranes living in the wild in the entire nation.

“We’re just getting to that level that they can operate on their own as a population and as a species and to have something like this happen right at that breaking point is very detrimental to the species,” said Lutz.

The field where the bird was gunned down near Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife area in Greene County is home to nearly a quarter of the country’s whooping crane population during their winter migration.

Conversation officers say before it’s death, 4-11 had also been one of the most successful examples of a whooping cranes reproducing in the wild.

“To lose that bird, on top of the fact you’re losing an endangered bird, it’s a real blow to the conservation effort. That’s why you have so many groups that are recognizing the importance of this bird and catching whoever did this,” said Lutz.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 812-837-9536.

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