The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is investigating the death of a whooping crane – reported by an Alabama Conservation Officer at Weiss Lake.

Reportedly the male crane – which was believed to have been shot – was killed on January 28th.

Designated 12-04 – the crane had been equipped with a transmitter and leg bands, to help track his movements; trackers located it with other cranes in a Cherokee County field not far from the lake where it was killed. According to trackers the bird has spent the last several winters on the marshes in and around Weiss Lake.

Jim Gale – Special Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services Southeast Region – has requested the support of the public – especially the fishing, hunting and boating community, to help prosecute whoever shot the crane.

A $6,000 reward is currently being offered for information, leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible. To provide information, call Special Agent John Rawls at (334) 285-9600 or e-mail him at john_rawls@fws.gov

Several organizations are contributing to the reward including Operation Migration which led this particular bird south with Ultralight aircraft, on its first migration in 2004; The Turner Foundation; the International Crane Foundation and the Alabama Wildlife Federation – in addition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

There are about 570 whooping cranes left in the world, 400 in the wild.

In addition to the Endangered Species Act whooping cranes are protected by state laws and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

For more information about the reintroduction effort – visit http://www.bringbackthecranes.org.