CHASSAHOWITZKA — Two people have pleaded guilty and been sentenced for shooting a migrating whooping crane in Vermillion County, Ind., in November 2009.
Wade Bennett of Cayuga, Ind., who was 18 at the time of the incident, and a juvenile were sentenced in Indiana state court last month to probation, fines and fees. Bennett's fine was $1 with court fees totaling $504.50.
A resident came forward in the spring of 2010 with information that helped close the case, according a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The slain whooping crane was considered the most important bird in Operation Migration, the program designed to reintroduce a migrating population of whooping cranes to the eastern United States. The crane, which learned the migration route from Wisconsin to Chassahowitzka behind ultralights in 2002, was the matriarch of the "first family." In 2006, she and her mate hatched, reared and taught the migration route to the first wild whooping crane in the reintroduction project.
No new leads have been reported in the killing of three other whooping cranes in Georgia and one in Alabama over the last year, according to a wildlife service spokesman.