LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Florida wildlife officials are investigating after residents posted on Facebook that they've seen sandhill cranes shot with arrows in the Umatilla area, not far from the North Lake County Park.
Jane Lynn posted a picture she took of a sandhill crane in her front yard with an arrow through its neck and shoulder, she said.
"The other three flew away and it was left here by itself, just walking in circles and making all kinds of squawking noises," Lynn said.
Lynn posted the picture to Facebook, which generated hundreds of comments. Included in the thread was a video Anthony Villicana recorded just a few weeks prior, also of a sandhill crane eating in a field with an arrow sticking through its body.
"I'm angry," Lynn said. "I'd like to take those arrows and put them in the person who did it."
She said it isn't the first time she's seen this. She said she's counted at least four sandhill cranes shot with arrows.
"They are shot in different places and the arrows are sticking out of different parts of their body," Lynn said. "The arrows are different colors, they are either silver, chrome, black or wood."
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Chad Weber said the agency is investigating and officers were dispatched to the area Tuesday.
He said there is a sandhill crane in the area that was shot three or four years ago with an arrow in its neck, and believes that could be the same one. Back then, Weber said FWC officials consulted with biologists who recommended leaving the arrow in to prevent harming the sandhill crane further.
"It's going to be more harmful for the bird if we capture it," Weber said. "Just the stress of trying to net it and the injury that it has could potentially hurt it more and now that the bird, it can fly and eat so they decided to leave it alone."
However, Lynn says she sees up to 20 sandhill cranes in the front yard of her large property, and insists there are several shot with arrows.
"I know it's not the same one," Lynn said.
She is working to send pictures to FWC while they continue to investigate, hoping whoever is shooting them is caught soon.
"If you know who it is, please turn them in," she said.
According to FWC, sandhill cranes are a protected species in Florida and it is a misdemeanor offense to injure one.