Wounded whooping crane dies|jon_downes|jon@cfz.org.uk|12/20/04 at 21:40:06|jon_downes|xx|0||Wounded whooping crane dies
By Kim Setty and The Associated Press
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
Friday, December 10, 2004

A whooping crane critically injured after it was accidentally shot in
November has died.

Federal officials say the crane died Thursday night at the Patuxent Wildlife
Research Center in Maryland.

It was being treated for shotgun wounds, including a broken wing, and a
respiratory infection.

It was shot at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge along with a second
bird, who died shortly after the shooting.

The hunters who killed them say they mistook the two birds, which are on the
endagered species list, for sandhill cranes.



Posted on Fri, Dec. 10, 2004

Injured whooping crane dies of illness

The endangered bird survived being shot only to succumb to a fungal
The Wichita Eagle

The second of two whooping cranes shot by hunters in early November died

The crane, which had survived a broken wing and at least 11 shot pellets in
its body, died after developing a respiratory illness.

The cranes were shot Nov. 6 near Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in
Stafford County. They were part of a flock of the endangered birds that
migrates annually from northern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The birds initially were taken to Kansas State University for treatment.
One, shot in the leg, died the next day. The second eventually was sent to
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md.

Tom Stehn, national U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinator for whooping
cranes, said the Maryland crane recently developed aspergillosis, a fungus
within the lungs that causes the bird to gasp for air.

"It comes after the whooping crane has been in trauma and put in captivity,"
said Stehn, who is based in Austwell, Texas.

The whooping crane has been federally protected since 1918. At one time,
fewer than 20 existed. About 440 whoopers are alive today, though one-third
are in captivity.

"With such a small number of whoopers alive in the world, the loss of each
individual bird is upsetting, especially one that we cared for so
intensely," John B. French Jr., head of the crane program at Patuxent, said
in a statement.

Federal wildlife officials determined shortly after the shooting that it was
an accident -- a group of hunters out for the opening of sandhill crane and
goose season mistook the rare birds for sandhills. Charges are expected to
be filed.

Meanwhile, a third crane that may have been with the first two remains at
Quivira. Officials are concerned that it has not continued to migrate.

"We can't tell if the bird has an injury," said Dave Hilley, refuge manager.
"We suspect it may have been fired on, but we can't prove it. It's been out
flying -- which we think is a good sign. But we just don't know."

Generally, whooping cranes pass through Kansas in families and small groups
in October and November. A record 62 whooping cranes stopped at Quivira this

Wildlife officials don't know why the third crane hasn't moved on. They know
it is probably a sub-adult, meaning it hasn't reached breeding maturity yet
and hasn't traveled the migratory route that often.

Experts say the whooping crane can withstand Kansas winds and winter
temperatures -- but may not survive the ice and snow that may soon cover its
food sources.

The latest a whooping crane has remained at Quivira during the fall
migration was Dec. 29, several years ago. Hilley said that bird came in with
a broken leg. Two unsuccessful attempts were made to trap it.

"When it left, it disappeared," he said. "It might have been killed by a
bobcat or coyote."

Shy and elusive, the lone whooping crane usually stays a quarter- to
half-mile from people. Using binoculars, people have seen it munching on
large, dark seeds from the marsh and perhaps some invertebrates. Most days
it leaves the refuge briefly to graze in a field.

The whooping crane has all but shut down activity at the 22,135-acre refuge.
Officials have closed the refuge to waterfowl and upland bird hunters and at
one point closed its wildlife drive.