A Texas teenager was arrested after he was accused of killing two endangered whooping cranes. Authorities in Beaumont, Texas, took 18-year-old Trey Joseph Frederick into custody on January 14 at his home. That same day Frederick appeared in federal court, accused of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The attack on the birds happened on January 10. They are the largest bird in the United States, growing to five feet tall and having a wingspan of seven feet. They are one of the most threatened species in the country.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The State’s Attorney Said That Frederick Admitted to Shooting the Birds
The Southeast Texas Examiner reports that on January 11, a Texas Game Warden got two calls saying that two whooping cranes had been killed along Blair Road in Jefferson County. During an interview, Frederick allegedly told agents that he had killed the birds. He said that he was hunting geese in the area.
2. He’s Not Allowed to Hunt Until His Next Court Appearance
For violation of the Migratory Bird Treat Act, Frederick could face six months in federal prison and/or a fine of $15,000. It is illegal to hunt or capture the birds. The Beaumont Enterprise reports that his next court date is on January 25. He is not allowed to hunt until then, reports 12 NewsNow. The case is being handled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Office of Law Enforcement and Game Wardens with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte.
3. His Favorite Quote Is ‘If It Flies, It Dies’
On Frederick’s Facebook page, his cover image shows him holding a dozen dead ducks. His profile photo is Frederick holding a rifle. He’s a native of Hampshire but now lives in Beaumont. Frederick works at STI Group. In 2015, Frederick “left” West Brook Senior High School and graduated from Hamshire-Fannett High School that same year. In a November 7 post Frederick mourned a missed hunting opportunity saying, “To all you folks getting the weekends off during hunting season… Consider yourselves lucky because I’ll be working another 16 hour shift tonight!! No hunting for me for a good while!!”
A month earlier he asked his social media friends, “Does anyone have any blood hounds that could track a blood line from a deer?” In the About section of his page, Frederick writes, “I LOVE TO HUNT, I ALSO LOVE TO FISH TOURNAMENTS, I AM ON HAMSHIRE FANNETS FISHING TEAM; AND I LOVE THE OUTDOORS MORE THAN ANYTHING!” His favorite quote is, “If it flies, it dies.”
An online bio for Frederick says that he got his first shotgun when he was 6. Frederick adds that he one day wants to be a world champion duck caller.
4. Frederick Thinks Women Who Have Abortions Should Go to Jail, Not Him
On his Twitter page, Frederick retweeted someone saying, “It’s sad when you can kill your own baby (have an abortion) but you kill a goddamn bird you going to jail.” In a string of other messages, Frederick said, “Haven’t slept in 2 days got me so messed up!!” He also sand “I’m just praying for a miracle honestly.” That was followed by “I really screwed up this time.”
5. There Are Fewer Than 600 Whooping Cranes Alive in the U.S.
There has been international outrage to Frederick’s actions. The International Crane Foundation said in a statement:
This is devastating and unacceptable. Of just 600 Whooping Cranes in the world, two are gone in an instant because of what appears to be a cowardly act of violence. Whooping Cranes face enough challenges to survival without senseless vandalism.
Needlessly and inexplicably, there are two less Whooping Cranes in the world today. Our sadness is matched only by our resolve. We are calling on citizens to take action to help raise awareness to prevent future shootings by joining the national campaign to protect Whooping Cranes
The statement from the ICF added that the two cranes that were shot were part of a flock of just 30. Two members of the flock can be seen in the above video.
A 2011 study from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service said that there were 437 whooping cranes in the while and 165 in captivity. The same study said that the birds were brought to the brink of extinction by “unregulated hunting.” In Texas in 2013 it was reported that conservation efforts had stepped up when water supplies were allocated to what was regarded as the world’s last flock of the endangered birds. On January 14, its was reported in Alabama that a flock of cranes were spotted flying after an ultralight aircraft. You can learn more about how to save the whooping cranes here and here.