The U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife and its state equivalent in Kentucky have offered a $7,200 reward for information leading to the capture of anyone involved in the shooting of two critically endangered whooping cranes in Kentucky.
The two cranes, a mating pair, were shot in late November, by the same people, according to FWS. One was discovered badly injured on November 27th and did not survive, and its mate was discovered, deceased, on December 13 in Muhlenberg County.
Whooping cranes are among the most endangered animals in the country, with fewer than 500 left in the wild. Their population has plummeted due to habitat loss, over-hunting, and predation from an unusual overabundance of predators like bobcats, who have thrived without apex predators like wolves and mountain lions in the southeast U.S.
There are continual efforts from national and state agencies to breed and release the whooping crane, but the bird remains perilously close to extinction and the loss of a breeding pair is a serious matter. More information on the police effort and on how to contact the authorities with any tips can be found here.