Two Knox County men have been sentenced to probation and fines after they pleaded guilty to shooting a whooping crane in January.
John Burke and Jason McCarter pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Terre Haute. As part of the plea agreement, each received three years’ probation, must pay a $5,000 donation to the International Crane Foundation, must perform 120 hours of community service, and cannot hunt during their probation.
A citizen tip led police to file charges against McCarter and Burke.
Agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources investigated the case. The crane was last observed alive by an International Crane Foundation volunteer on Jan. 7. The whooping crane killed was taught its migratory path by ultralight aircraft, and it belonged to a nesting pair and was one of about 100 birds left in the eastern fly way.
In addition to the Endangered Species Act, whooping cranes are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws.
An investigation into the killing of a second whooping crane in Jackson County continues.