The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is reminding waterfowl hunters to be alert for whooping cranes in marshes and fields that contain legally-hunted game birds.

According to a LDWF press release, reintroduced whooping cranes are situated in Acadia, Avoyelles, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, Rapides and Vermilion parishes.

Hunters are cautioned to positively identify their targets before shooting, and anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe them from a distance to minimize any disturbance to the bird’s habitat.

Although whooping cranes in Louisiana are considered an “experimental, non-essential population” under the Endangered Species Act, they are protected by the Migratory Game Bird Treaty and cannot be pursued, harassed, captured or killed, the release states.

Waterfowl hunters should be accustomed to seeing large-bodies white birds with black wing tips, such as white ibis, white pelicans and wood storks, which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese, the release states.

Whooping cranes stand an impressive 5-feet tall, and have a wingspan of 7- to 8-feet. Easily identifiable characteristics of whooping cranes in flight include fully extended neck and legs, and black wing tips.

Photos of cranes and similar species can be seen on the LDWF Web site by clicking here.

Hunters are encouraged to report whooping crane sightings to assist the department in tracking their movements by calling the White Lake WCA office at 337-536-9400, ext. 4.

Anyone witnessing whooping cranes being pursued, harassed, captured or killed is urged to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511.