Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2003


An adult whooping crane was shot and killed late Friday, November 14th south of Dallas, Texas. A suspect has been apprehended and USFWS  is handling the case. Below are a few details of the incident.

Late Friday afternoon, locals heard shots coming from Waxahachie Creek, a part of Lake Bardwell near Ennis, Texas in Ellis County. With waterfowl season open the previous weekend, closed during the week and scheduled to re-open Saturday, the local warden was called. James Murphy, a Corps of Engineers officer covering Waxahachie Creek Park responded and apprehended the hunter with 3 ducks plus 1 whooping crane hidden in a bag. The hunter said he had shot a white crane. Mr. Murphy notified TPWD and USFWS law enforcement personnel. On Saturday, USFWS Special Agent Steve Hamilton was notified and is currently handling the case. The suspect has not yet been charged on the Federal level. The incident is expected to be presented to the U.S. Attorney in Dallas early this week.

Four whooping cranes had been present since Tuesday, spending the days feeding in a nearby cornfield and presumably roosting at night on Lake Bardwell. One crane was shot about 15 minutes before sunset apparently as it flew to roost. The 3 remaining cranes are believed to have resumed migration early Sunday afternoon.

Any shooting of a whooping crane is an unfortunate situation. In this case, the shooting was done by a hunter during a closed waterfowl season and closed sandhill crane season, who also did not have the required reservoir hunting permit from the Corps of Engineers.

A decision needs to be made Monday about issuing a press release from USFWS - Region II. The local newspaper in Ennis, Texas knows about the incident, but I know of no other press inquiries so far.

Tom Stehn
Whooping Crane Coordinator

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