A $5,000 reward is being offered to find out who killed a whooping crane in southwest Louisiana in January, federal authorities said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in a news release, announced the reward for information regarding the endangered bird, which was found dead Jan. 9 in Evangeline Parish along Besi Lane in Mamou, Louisiana. A necropsy determined that the juvenile bird was shot, resulting in a spinal fracture and internal bleeding.

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Whooping cranes are endangered under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It is illegal to harm the species in any way. The reward is for information leading to the arrest or criminal conviction of those involved.

“It’s frustrating,” Richard Dunn, a curator at Freeport McMoran Audubon Species Survival Center, told The Advocate. “It’s bad enough to hear a bird got predated or hit a power line. Something as simple as it got shot is what kills us the most.”

The Survival Center, based in New Orleans, has worked to improve the whooping crane population by breeding and raising cranes to be reintroduced into nature.

State officials and groups like the Audubon Nature Institute have gone to great lengths to reintroduce the species. As of 2023, 85 whooping cranes exist in Louisiana. Each bird reintroduced into the wild takes months of care, and nearly $33,000 is spent caring per bird, Dunn said.

Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds with a red head and black facial markings. They measure 5 feet tall and have a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet. In flight, whooping cranes display black wingtips and a fully extended neck and legs, the latter reaching well beyond the tail.

Federal and state agencies began Louisiana’s reintroduction in 2011, when 10 were released at White Lake to develop the flock; the first chick hatched in 2016. Since 2011, the state has seen 11 cranes killed.

Anyone with information about the January case is urged to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 985-882-3756 or the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Lake Charles Office at 337-491-2575.

Callers may remain anonymous.