Whooping cranes occupy many of the same marshes and fields as legally-hunted game birds, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries wants to make sure Coastal Zone hunters are aware of the birds’ potential presence. 

The cranes started being reintroduced into the wild from the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area starting in 2011, and have dispersed over time to East Texas, as well as Acadia, Avoyelles, Calcasieu,Cameron, Jeff Davis, Rapides and Vermilion parishes.

Hunters are cautioned to positively identify their targets as game birds before shooting.  Although whooping cranes in Louisiana are considered an “experimental, non-essential population” under the Endangered Species Act, they are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be pursued, harassed, captured or killed.

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

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

Photos of the cranes and similar species can be seen on the LDWF website by clicking here

Hunters are encouraged to report whooping crane sightings to assist the department in tracking their movements. Location information can be reported to the White Lake WCA office at 337-536-9400, ext. 4 or by emailing szimorski@wlf.la.gov .

Anyone witnessing whooping cranes being pursued, harassed, captured or killed is urged to call the LDWF Enforcement Division’s Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 to report what they’ve seen.