A seven-year-old Whooping Crane — the only successful breeding female from the eastern migratory population — was shot and killed in western Indiana, near the town of Cayuga. The crane, given the beautiful name of 17-02, and her mate, 11-02, hatched two chicks in summer 2006 and one in summer 2009 at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin. One of the 2006 birds survived. The parents have been the only adults in the eastern population to raise a chick and lead it to wintering grounds in Florida.
In late November, the two cranes had stopped at a marsh in Indiana, a place they typically stop at on their southbound migration. A tracking field manager observed the pair on November 28 during an aerial survey. On her return flight on Tuesday, December 1, 17-02 was missing. The bird was found dead near a ravine, not far from a rural county road. FWS is offering a minimum reward of $2,500 to the person or people who provide information leading to a conviction.