Texas man gets stiff sentence for killing two Louisiana whooping cranes

Frederick ordered to pay $26,000, gets five years probation, LDWF says

A 19-year-old Texas man who pleaded guilty to killing two Louisiana whooping cranes earlier this year was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay almost $26,000 in restitution by a federal magistrate in Beaumont, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

In addition to probation and the fine, Trey Joseph Frederick is prohibited from possessing firearms and cannot hunt or fish in the United States for five years. He must also perform 200 hours of community service, the release states.

The cranes — a male and female originally released at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area near Gueydan — were found dead in Jefferson County in Southeast Texas on Jan. 11.

“We’re pleased with the sentence and appreciate how seriously the judge and prosecutor took this case,’’ LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon said. “We are grateful to the state and federal law enforcement agents who worked this case and to everyone else who assisted to ensure that justice was served.

“We hope this sentence sends a strong message that this type of crime won’t be tolerated. We also hope, in this tragedy, that we can further educate the public about whooping cranes.’’

Frederick faced a fine of up to $50,000 and as much as a year in jail, the release states.

Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds similar to white ibis, white pelicans and wood storks, all of which must be distinguished from legally-hunted snow geese.

However, a red head and black facial markings along with a height of 5 feet and a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet make them very distinctive. In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips and fully extended neck and legs, which extend well beyond the tail.

Juvenile whooping cranes are primarily white with some cinnamon-brown feathers remaining on their body, primarily on their head and neck. Their wing tips are black like an adult, but they lack the red head.

Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance and to report their sighting to LDWF.