AUSTIN — Texas game wardens in Aransas County are awaiting necropsy results on a state and federally protected whooping crane found dead Sunday near a duck blind located in the Aransas Bay system close to Sand Lake.
The bird was partially decomposed when recovered by Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens who had been contacted Sunday morning by a local hunting guide who had originally discovered the crane.
Whoopers are the tallest birds in North America, standing nearly five feet. The cranes are solid white except for black wing-tips that are visible only in flight. They fly with necks and legs outstretched. Each fall, they make a 2,400-mile migratory journey from Canada to the Texas coast. In the spring, they return north.
TPWD game wardens and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are jointly investigating this incident. If anyone has additional information regarding this matter, they are encouraged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). Callers may remain anonymous.
Since beginning their slow recovery from a low of 16 birds in the 1940s, whoopers have wintered on the Texas coast on and near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Recently though, several groups of whooping cranes have expanded their wintering areas to include other coastal areas and some inland sites in Central Texas.