$1 Fine for Killing an Endangered Species

The punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime for two individuals who pleaded guilty to the 2009 shooting of an endangered whooping crane in Indiana at the end of March.

Wade Bennett, 18, of Cayuga, and an unnamed minor each received a year of probation, $550 in legal costs and a $1 fine for the crime. One dollar.

Apparently the boys were out on a killing spree and managed to slaughter one of fewer than 400 whooping cranes left in the wild.

“They would drive around shooting whatever (animals) they saw, kind of like target practice. They had been squirrel hunting, and then they came upon a large white bird and just shot it,” said Special Agent Buddy Shapp of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The minor, who pulled the trigger, was charged with unlawful take of an endangered species, while Bennett was charged with providing false information, according to Bird Watch Daily.

A reward was offered for information about the shooting, which lead to a tip about the boys. Neither of them are being charged with federal crimes, including violations of the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Act, because there was a minor involved, even though that is not standard practice.

Sadly, the crane who was shot was with her mate, who was not killed. She was also the mother of the first chick to be hatched and successfully raised in the wild by cranes who had been raised in captivity. 

These particular cranes were hand-raised at the USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center as part of Operation Migration, which strives to reintroduce whooping cranes and other birds in the east. 

Baby cranes are reared by humans wearing costumes and using hand-puppets to teach them the skills they’ll need to survive in the wild. They are also taught how to fly by someone in an ultralight aircraft, which they will follow as they learn their migration route from Wisconsin to Florida (see photos).

To kill one of these beautiful and vulnerable birds is appalling. To give a fine of $1 is outrageous. 



Photo by Steve Gifford


Kelly P.
John B4 years ago

I think they should each have been sentenced to a hundred hours or more of community service in helping in the program. That would probably have done a lot more to make them contrite about what they had done and, hopefully, make them have more respect for all wildlife.

Richard Hancock
Richard H4 years ago

Well done to who-ever tipped the authorities off about the boys. Poorly done by the authorities for not letting the punishment fit the crime - at least tie the $1 fine in with some community service or wildlife volunteering in the hope these boys will see the beauty in the animals and the joy from helping them.

Darla Taylor
Past Member 4 years ago

That is simply outrageous!!!! A fine of $1 for killing an endangered bird. Ludicrous!!!! Charges should definitely have been harsher whether or not he was a minor which shouldn't have been a deciding factor in this situation.

federico bortoletto

Che schifezza. La multa di un dollaro è solo una porcheria per quello che hanno combinato. MAGARI i loro genitori li hanno anche difesi.......poverini

Georgia Armstrong
Georgia a5 years ago

SORRY, continued - finger hit the wrong button> Make him help the vet work on every single animal that comes into his office, no matter how gory the situation is. Mangled bodies, flea and tick infested, collars grown into their necks, run over by cars, beaten by their owners, starved by their owners, heartworms, natural illnesses like cancer, etc. Let them see what people really can do to a poor defenseless animal and let them see what good, loving people do to help these animals. Perhaps the goodness would actually rub off on him and turn him into someone you, I and his parents would be proud of and he'd never shoot another animal of any type.

Georgia Armstrong
Georgia a5 years ago

Wow! One whole freaking dollar. Did his parents have to loan it to him? Super! I just love our judicial system. Really I do. That kind of thinking is why we have so many thieves, rapists and murderers still walking the byways. OK, if he didn't want to lay a whoping fine on him, how about this. Put his little ass in a vet's office for, oh, in my opinion, at least two years (five would be better, but the bleeding heart would never do that) and MAKE himm

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

This means that, since there was no punishment, the murder of fellow creatures is acceptable, right?
This is disgusting--I agree with Lindy--the boy had the responsibility the moment he picked up the gun!

JACQUI GLYDE5 years ago

But don't blame the boys,what about the parents that should be teaching them the right way to treat all animals?
I say fine the parents & then we might have some more care & responsibility in our world.
It all comes down to being reponsible parents!