Gueydan Man Pleaded Guilty for Illegal Shooting of Whooping Crane

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF)

Release Date: 07/11/2017

A Gueydan man pleaded guilty on July 7 in Federal Court in Lafayette for migratory bird violations that occurred in Vermilion Parish.

Whooping Crane

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries photo

Judge Carol B. Whitehurst of the Western District Court accepted the guilty plea of Lane T. Thibodeaux, 21, for taking a whooping crane for which there is no season, taking migratory game birds out of season, from a moving vehicle and without a Louisiana hunting license, and wanton waste of migratory game birds.  Judge Whitehurst sentenced Thibodeaux to serve 45 days in Federal Prison for each of the five convictions to run concurrently and a $2,500 fine.  He must pay his fine in full within one year or he will have to serve 45 days in Federal Prison for each of the five convictions to run consecutively.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents began investigating a whooping crane that was found in a field just north of Gueydan off of Zaunbrecher Rd. with a gunshot wound in its left leg on Nov. 4, 2014.  The crane was transported to the LSU Veterinary School where it had to be euthanized because of its gunshot injury.

Through the course of the investigation agents were able to ascertain information from confidential informants that told them Thibodeaux was the person that shot the whooping crane.  Agents were able to obtain a search warrant for Thibodeaux’s phone and then collect videos and photos showing Thibodeaux shooting migratory game birds from a vehicle off of a public road near the area where the whooping crane was found.  The phone also contained information of Thibodeaux being involved in illegal narcotic activity, which was turned over to the Vermilion Parish Narcotics Task Force.

During the investigation agents also learned that Thibodeaux threatened the informants to not give any information to LDWF agents about the whooping crane he shot.  Agents arrested Thibodeaux on charges of felony witness intimidation on March 4, 2015 and those charges are still pending at this time.

The crane in this case had been released in January of 2014.  LDWF is working cooperatively with the USFWS, USGS, the International Crane Foundation and the Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to bring the species back to the state. This non-migratory flock of whooping cranes is designated as a non-essential, experimental population but is protected under state law, the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The confidential informants will split a reward for their information that led to the arrest and conviction of Thibodeaux.  The reward money consisted of $1,000 each from LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation; $5,000 from The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust; and $3,000 from anonymous donors.

The lead LDWF investigative agent for this case was Senior Agent Derek Logan with assistance from Lt. Beau Robertson and Sgt. David Sanford.  The Louisiana State Police Crime Lab and PC Recovery in Lafayette assisted with collecting the data from the seized cell phones.  The Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the execution of warrants.

 

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

 

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Berm-focused Platte River Recovery Implementation Program water project to proceed

Berm-focused PRRIP water project to proceed

Lori Potter – Kearney Hub

ELM CREEK — A design and cost estimate might be ready in September for the first new Platte River Recovery Implementation Program water project to proceed since the large J-2 water-retiming reservoirs project proposed for southwest of Overton were determined to be too expensive.

The main feature of the new project will be about 6.5 miles of small berms spread over roughly 300 grassland acres in the southeast corner of the 3,000-acre Cottonwood Ranch. It is owned by Nebraska Public Power District and managed by the PRRIP on the south side of the river between Elm Creek and Overton.

Platte River Recovery Implementation Program

Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Director of Habitat Management and Rehabilitation Jason Farnsworth, left, and Executive Director Jerry Kenny describe for 2017 Nebraska Water and Natural Resources Tour participants a water project at a Cottonwood Ranch grassland southwest of Elm Creek. The plan is to build small berms to hold water on the 300-acre site at times when high flows allow diversions from the Platte River, at the tree line in the background. Lori Potter, Kearney Hub

PRRIP Director of Habitat Management and Rehabilitation Jason Farnsworth said the benefits will be better roosting and foraging habitat for migrating whooping cranes and the ability to retime water in the river.

The Platte Program is a combined effort of the U.S. Department of Interior, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado to protect critical habitat in and around the Central Platte River for threatened and endangered species: whooping cranes, interior least terns and piping plovers.

The three main components for the first 13-year increment are to protect 10,000 acres of land habitat — PRRIP Executive Director Jerry Kenny of Kearney said 12,000 acres have been acquired — and reduce depletions to river target flows by 130,000-150,000 acre-feet on average.

He said program partners brought 80,000 a-f of water toward the goal, leaving 50,000-80,000 a-f still to achieve.

Platte River Recovery Implementation Program

Grazing leases and public access for hiking and waterfowl hunting will likely continue at the Cottonwood Ranch site where a berm-focused Platte River Recovery Implementation Program water project may be built late this year or early in 2018. Lori Potter, Kearney Hub

The Cottonwood Ranch property was acquired as wet meadow and lowland grassland habitat, Farnsworth said, “but we had issues keeping water in this area.”

“Soon, we will incorporate this whole area as a broad-scale recharge project that can hold water from the Platte if there is a flow excess,” he said, beyond targets set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Berms will be 5-6 feet tall.

“It will be a couple hundred acres of water 6 to 12 to 14 inches deep. That’s perfect for these birds,” Farnsworth said about the habitat that will be created to attract migrating whooping cranes.

To read more of this article by Lori Potter of the Kearney Hub, click here.

***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

 

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