The whooping crane was released last year in Wisconsin in the company of other older whooping cranes, and was found less than a quarter-mile from another crane found dead on Jan. 28 near Weiss Lake, according to officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Federal officials suspect both were shot around the same time.
There are about 570 whooping cranes left in the world, 400 in the wild, according to the FWS.
A hefty reward now stands at $23,250.
The amount is the result of a combined total contributed by 18 non-governmental organizations, federal agencies, and private individuals for additional information on the deaths of the two whooping cranes leading to successful prosecution of the perpetrators.
“We hope this reward may help generate leads from anyone who may know about these deaths,” said Jim Gale, special agent in charge of law enforcement in the service’s Southeast Region. “We are working hard to bring the offender or offenders to justice and greatly appreciate any assistance the public can offer.”
Four adult cranes and three juveniles had been spending some time in the backwater of Weiss Lake, and they had apparently been in the area for some time.
Penny Hayes, a former Cherokee County, Ala., resident who now lives near Brushy Branch, said she first saw the birds on Jan. 9.
To provide information, call Special Agent John Rawls at 334-285-9600, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.