PARRISH, Fla. (WFLA) – Jennifer Mathis is angry and scared.
On Tuesday she and her children took pictures of the sandhill cranes in their backyard. The pair of birds came by frequently. Then Mathis left.
When she returned a short time later, one of the sandhill cranes was dead next to her house. It had what appeared to be bullet wounds.
“By the time I got here it was barely breathing. It was too late to do anything, it was gone,” said Mathis.
“Its mate was walking around, just looked distraught, upset,” she described.
She called Justin Matthews with Matthews Wildlife Rescue. When he arrived the bird was dead. It had been shot at least three times with a BB gun.
“They shot him just for the heck of it, just to be cruel,” Matthews said.
Sandhill cranes are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
““It’s hurtful, it’s very depressing….They have the right to survive here just as much as much as we do,” Matthews said.
“Why you would shoot a bird, just to shoot it and watch it fall, doesn’t make any sense to me. If you can do that to a defenseless animal what can you do to people?” Matthews said.
Mathis is afraid the shooter could harm someone else. The bird was killed just outside her child’s window.
“My kids come out and play, who’s to say that they miss whatever they’re shooting at and shoot my kid or my dog or the neighbor’s kid? You don’t know. It’s scary,” Mathis said.
Since the bird is protected, the shooter could face fines or possible jail time.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating. Matthews Wildlife Rescue is also offering a $500 reward with information leading to an arrest.