Texan who killed 2 endangered whooping cranes gets probation

A pair of whooping cranes walk through shallow marsh water looking for food Dec. 17, 2011, near the Aransas Wildlife Refuge in Fulton, Texas. Scientists are concerned a devastating drought could hurt the recovery of the 300 endangered whooping cranes that winter in Texas. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — A Southeast Texas man must serve five years of federal probation for killing two endangered whooping cranes while hunting.

Trey Joseph Frederick was sentenced Tuesday in Beaumont.

A magistrate also ordered the 19-year-old Beaumont man to pay nearly $26,000 in restitution, barred Frederick from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition and prohibited him from hunting or fishing in the U.S. for the next five years.

“This ruling has set a powerful precedent for the future of Whooping Crane conservation,” said Rich Beilfuss, President of the International Crane Foundation. “This was not hunting. This was an act of criminal vandalism, and we are encouraged that Judge Hawthorn treated it as such. We hope the decision will be a strong deterrent to anyone considering a similar crime.”

Frederick, who in May pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, must also do 200 hours of community service.

A Texas game warden on Jan. 11 received calls about two whooping cranes shot. Officials say Frederick was hunting nearby.

The birds died about 115 miles west of Louisiana’s White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area, where dozens of whooping cranes have been released in efforts to create a self-sustaining flock.

“We hope people recognize that if we can’t save Whooping Cranes, we all lose,” said Beilfuss.

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