State, federal officials mum on killing of whooping crane

Feb 25, 2013 | Austin American Statesman by Mike Leggett | TAP Updates

There are only about 300 whooping cranes left in the wild, and they are protected by federal law.

In other words, it is a federal crime to kill one, a violation of the Endangered Species Act, and the feds take it seriously. Just this month, a young man in South Dakota pleaded guilty to killing one last April, and he was given an $85,000 fine, put on two years probation, ordered to surrender his rifle and banned from hunting, fishing or trapping anywhere in the country for two years.

Six weeks ago, down at San Jose Island, somebody shot and killed a young whooping crane. And, for now, that’s the end of the story, because nobody at Texas Parks and Wildlife or U.S. Fish and Wildlife will talk about it. The only reason anyone else has any inkling about it is because a draft TPWD press release about the incident was accidentally posted to the Internet.

Don’t bother looking. It’s been taken down. “We messed up,” says Lydia Saldaña, head of communications for TPWD. “It was never meant to be a press release. We posted something we shouldn’t have.”

All we know about the incident comes from the hedged language of the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t press release and a swirl of rumors, innuendo and coffee shop banter around Rockport, which is near San Jose Island and the winter home of the cranes.  Read the entire article »