Authorities are seeking information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the deaths of several endangered least terns. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward up to $8,500 for this information.
According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the dead birds were found on an island on the Arkansas River south of Little Rock in late June. In addition to the carcasses, egg shell fragments and spent shotgun shells were also found. Earlier that month, researchers observed more than 50 adult terns and two active nests on the island. The animals appeared to be engaging in re-nesting activities following a flood on June 12.
Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection for The HSUS said, “Killing an endangered species is a serious crime. We are grateful for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s work to investigate this crime and bring the offenders to justice.”
Harming least terns is a violation of the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and is punishable by up to a year in prison and fines up to $100,000. Civil penalties up to $25,000 per violation may also be assessed.
Anyone with information concerning the deaths of these birds is asked to call the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at 1-800-482-9262.
The HSUS and HSWLT work to curb poaching across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/poaching for more information. The HSUS recently doubled its standard poaching reward from $2,500 to $5,000.
Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are poached annually.
It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.
Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.
The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.