Indiana conservation officers and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) are seeking public help in their ongoing investigation into the illegal killing of a whooping crane more than a year ago in Jackson County.
The whooping crane, known as Bird 605, was found Dec. 30, 2011, in southeastern Jackson County near Crothersville. Investigators are encouraging anyone with information about the incident to contact Turn-IN-A-Poacher by calling 800-TIP-IDNR (847-4367).
TIP is a joint effort of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), sportsmen and sportswomen of Indiana and concerned citizens. Through the program, any citizen may anonymously report violations of fishing, hunting and environmental laws and be eligible for cash rewards.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of Southern Indiana has offered its full support in the prosecution of the individuals responsible for killing the crane. Whooping cranes are protected by the Endangered Species Act, the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws.
The legal protections have helped the birds’ population recover from a few dozen in the 1940s to about 500 in the wild today, but the species’ status remains fragile. The whooping crane killed in Jackson County was part of an effort to establish an eastern continental flock on a migratory path between Wisconsin and Florida, taking the birds through Indiana.
“The loss of whooping crane 605 is another blow to the reintroduction program, in that this individual bird was an adult with more than five years of life experience flying the same migration path,” said FWS wetland bird biologist Bob Russell. “We have lost, in essence, a teacher and mentor for young fledglings.
“Wildlife crimes such as this undo years of time, energy and private fundraising efforts on the part of many partners. Our law enforcement agents will work in conjunction with our state counterparts to fully investigate this case.”
Sixth annual Eagle Watch set for Feb. 2-3
Enjoy an afternoon and evening with the staff and volunteers of Upper Wabash Interpretive Services, as they caravan to Indiana’s largest documented winter eagle roost Feb. 2-3.
The Eagle Watch will begin at Salamonie Interpretive Center (UWIS) at 3 p.m. both days. The program begins with a short overview of Indiana bald eagles and caravan to the roost to watch the eagles come in for the night.
There will also be special guests: on Feb. 2, Belle, the bald eagle from As Wings of Eagles, Inc., will be attending the Eagle Watch with her handler, Zach Walker. On Feb. 3, Jefferson, the bald eagle from Soarin’ Hawk Raptor Rehab, will be in attendance. Both eagle handlers will be accepting donations.
A bus will be available for individuals interested in saving a bit of gas. Folks may ride the bus for a $4 fee per person to cover fuel costs. Registration is requested. Be sure to dress for the weather and bring binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras. Coffee and hot chocolate will be available, for a donation.
The center is in Lost Bridge West Recreation Area, Highway 105, in western Huntington County. For the safety of the Eagle Watch participants, the section of Frances Slocum Road between State Road 124 and S. 550 E. in Miami County will be closed for the event.
For more information or to register, call 260-468-2127. For information on other UWIS programs, see www.dnr.IN.gov/ uwis or www.facebook.com/upper wabash
Bald eagle found dead in Gibson County
Conservation officers are reporting a mature bald eagle was found dead near 8338 Base Road in Gibson County, by a highway worker on Jan. 9. Conservation Officer Gordon Wood responded to the scene and spoke with the worker who alerted officials of the find.
The eagle was directly under power lines and showed no signs of blood on the outside of the body.
Wood transported the eagle to a licensed veterinarian who conducted an X-ray of the bird. The examination found no metal projectiles inside the body.
Cpl. Paul Axton stated several years ago another bald eagle was found in Posey County directly under power lines. An examination of the bird by Fish and Wildlife officials listed the cause of death as contact with power lines (electrocution).
Axton has picked up several birds of prey near power lines and utility poles whose cause of death was attributed to contact with power lines. The large wingspan of birds of prey is a significant factor in the cause of power line-related deaths. The bird will be turned over to federal FWS officials for further investigation.
Additions for two Indiana nature preserves
The Natural Resources Commission approved the dedication of additions to two existing nature preserves in northern Indiana Jan. 15.
The largest is a 337-acre addition to Manitou Island Nature Preserve in Fulton County featuring a wetland complex of shrub swamp, marsh, forested swamp, sedge meadow, shrub fen, natural lake and associated upland and lowland forests.
The addition connects three existing nature preserves – Manitou Island, Judy Burton and Bob Kern – and brings the total area of contiguous wetlands in the preserve to 740 acres now protecting the southern end of Lake Manitou.
The commission also approved dedication of a 69.5-acre addition to Crooked Lake Nature Preserve in Whitley County. The site consists primarily of upland forests, reforested former fields bordering upland forest of the original preserve and a pond.
With the addition, the preserve now covers approximately 215 acres on the north side of Crooked Lake. The DNR owns and manages both preserves.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Jack Spaulding may contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to him in care of this publication.