A second dead whooping crane has been found near Weiss Lake on the Alabama-Georgia border, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The second crane, identified as number 22-10 from the order and year it was born, was released last year in Wisconsin after being hatched and raised in a special program to revive the declining species.
This latest bird was found just a quarter mile from where another hand-raised bird was found shot to death.
Authorities say the first bird was shot, but lab results are pending, and they believe this latest death is linked to the first, according to Elsie Davis, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman.
A reward for information that leads to successful prosecution of the responsible party now stands at $23,250.
"We hope this reward may help generate leads from anyone who may know about these deaths," said Jim Gale, special agent in charge of law enforcement in the service's Southeast Region. "We are working hard to bring the offender or offenders to justice and greatly appreciate any assistance the public can offer."
The entire whooping crane population numbers no more than 500 in the wild. They are considered endangered, and poaching the birds carries hefty finds and potential jail time.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.