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Man, 25, and juvenile accused of killing 2 whooping cranes

April 10, 2018 GMT

RAYNE, La. (AP) — A 25-year-old man and a teenage boy are accused of killing two endangered whooping cranes nearly two years ago, Louisiana wildlife officials said Tuesday.

Kaenon Constantin of Rayne and the teen were cited April 3 on charges of violating the Endangered Species Act, hunting from a public road and obstructing justice, a Department of Wildlife and Fisheries statement said. They were not arrested. They face up to $65,000 in fines and 11½ years in jail.

The dead cranes had been released as juveniles in December 2015. Their bodies were found south of Rayne in May 2016. Necropsies revealed that both had been shot.

The department said agents learned that they were shot with .22-caliber rifles from an all-terrain vehicle on a public road. Agents confiscated an ATV and two .22-caliber rifles.

Constatin said in a Facebook message to The Associated Press that no ATV was seized and no one was arrested, but did not comment further.

The cranes are among 125 released since 2011, and 10 have been shot to death. At least 66 survived, Enforcement Division spokesman Adam Einck said.

In mid-March, the department released a statement asking for tips in this shooting, noting that there was a $9,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever shot the cranes. That announcement didn’t bring about the identification, Einck said.

He said agents found the suspects were “determined to destroy and conceal evidence” but said he could not give details.