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Birdchick Podcast #25 Indiana Fines Wade Bennett $1 for Killing Whooping Crane


SO ANGRY! Indiana screwed up in a big way.  The Hoosier State sent a message that killing an endangered species like a Whooping Crane is only worth $1. Seriously, they fined Wade Bennett and an unnamed minor who killed an endangered species ONE DOLLAR.  Unacceptable.

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10 comments to Birdchick Podcast #25 Indiana Fines Wade Bennett $1 for Killing Whooping Crane

  • K

    According to this, the fine plus fees was $500. Maybe the fine was $1.00, but w/ fees, the total is $500.00? It’s more than $1.00, but not nearly enough, in my opinion. It doesn’t say how much they fined the juvenile.

  • The news about the punishment for killing a Whooping Crane is just unbelievable. These guys went for a drive through the country and shot at anything that came into range. In the process, they end up killing a spectacular endangered species and at the end of the day pay a one dollar fine. It is hard to find news more deserving of a big fat WTF?!?!

  • Steve

    We have to remember that the $1 fine was for the adult. The adult did not pull the trigger. It was NOT a fine of $1 for killing a whooping crane. It was a fine of $1 for lying about it.

  • SpaceDoggity

    Imprisonment is expensive to the state. Steep fines aren’t necessarily realistic, given the limited ability of some to afford them. But some possible, entirely realistic punishments come to mind that the Indiana authorities evidently overlooked. One is forfeiture of the firearms used (presumably worth hundreds of dollars) and the vehicle (presumably worth thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars) from which they were “road hunting” (i.e. poaching); in many jurisdictions, articles used in a criminal activity are subject to seizure. It’s possible (but by no means certain) that this already happened; I don’t think it requires court action. Another possible punishment is restriction on future activities. A year of probation, waiting a bit before poaching again, is insufficient. Criminal activity involving a car? Take away drivers licenses, for a good long time. Criminal activity involving a gun? Take away their right to own firearms, perhaps permanently. They’re criminals, after all; the NRA shouldn’t have a problem with that. Most honorable, law-abiding hunters don’t have an issue with the law coming down hard on poachers, so there shouldn’t be too much of a political price to pay with the gun-owning, hunting electorate. Now, they’d probably drive and shoot anyway, but it would still hurt them, and it would make it much easier to come down on them harder in the future for what would otherwise be relatively minor offenses.

  • Celynnen

    I thought fines under the ESA were along the lines of $25000 – at the very least they should make this kid do several years’ worth of community service and outreach for conservation programs.

  • Steve

    USFWS presented it’s evidence to the Department of Justice which makes the determination if they will pursue Federal charges under the ESA or MBTA (Migratory Bird Treaty Act – which made it against the law to harm ANY native bird unless it’s a huntable species). In this case the DOJ decided not to pursue Federal charges. I don’t know the exact reason but a reasonable guess was that it was because the shooter was a minor. (that’s just a guess).

  • I didn’t even realize that shooting an endangered species could be left to state discretion; assumed it was automatically a Federal crime with Federal jurisdiction…
    Anyway, not to be too conspiratorial, but I wonder if it’s proven that the minor was the shooter, or is there any chance the adult did the shooting but got the minor to take the rap for it knowing he’d get off light?

  • YL

    That makes me so upset. I remember reading the Operation Migration blog back in 2006 and being so excited when 17-02 and her mate successfully hatched and raised their chick. The first family to do so since the project started.

  • Steve

    Cyberthrush, it’s not. ESA and MBTA are federal crimes, but the federal Dept. of Justice gets to decide whether they want to prosecute, or turn it over to the state for lesser (non federal charges). I don’t know what the juvenile was actually charged with.

  • Unbelievable! So many people and organizations are fighting to help this species survive and when something like this happens it is just disheartening.
    Without legistlative support, the best weapon is education. David Sakrison, author, and co-producer of the documentary, “Saving Cranes” is coming to Riveredge Nature Center, WI to talk about the Whooping Crane recovery program. Anyone in the area is welcome.