A 21-year-old Gueydan man was fined $2,500 and will serve time in federal prison after pleading guilty to shooting a whooping crane in November of 2014.
According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Judge Carol B. Whitehurst accepted the guilty plea of Lane T. Thibodeaux for 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.
She sentenced Thibodeaux to serve 45 days in federal prison for each of the five convictions to run concurrently and to pay a $2,500 fine. He must pay the fine in-full within one year, or he will be sentenced to serve 45 days in federal prison for each of the five convictions to run consecutively, the release states.
The crane was found just north of Gueydan with a gunshot wound in its left leg on Nov. 4, 2014, and ultimately had to be euthanized at the LSU Veterinary School, the release states.
Through the course of the investigation, agents learned Thibodeaux was responsible, and eventually obtained a search warrant for his phone, which had videos and photos of him shooting game birds from a vehicle on a public road near where the crane was shot, according to the release.
The phone also contained information indicating Thibodeaux was allegedly involved in illegal narcotics activity, which was turned over to the Vermilion Parish Narcotics Task Force, the release states.
During the investigation, agents also learned that Thibodeaux threatened the informants not to give any information to LDWF agents about the whooping crane. Agents arrested Thibodeaux on charges of felony witness intimidation on March 4, 2015, and those charges are still pending at this time, according to the release.
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.