In November of 2021, near Tom Steed Reservoir, hunters discovered one whooping crane with a shotgun wound. Unfortunately, the crane did not survive. After being notified, game wardens with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) discovered the remains of three more whooping cranes.
Joseph M. Roman, 43, of Altus, Justin M. Wine, 40, of Altus, Chanod M. Campbell, 32, of Gould, and Brian Lee Gollihare Jr., 35, of Hollis, were charged August 22, 2023, for the deaths of the four whooping cranes in November 2021. The men were hunting at Tom Steed Reservoir when they killed the four whooping cranes and attempted to hide the birds to cover up their crime.
All four men pleaded guilty and will each have to pay $17,000 in restitution and a $750 fine. Each hunter will also forfeit their shotguns and lose their hunting privileges in all 50 states for the next five years.
The whooping crane is one of the rarest birds in North America and are highly endangered. An FWS report from May 2023, estimates there are less than 600 total whooping cranes in the wild. They are protected under the Endangered Species and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts.
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