Injured sandhill crane in Melbourne dies

By Jerry Hume, Brevard County Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, April 26, 2014, 12:19 PM EDT

The sandhill crane that was taken to a wildlife hospital earlier Saturday morning has died, hospital officials said.

In the predawn hours on Saturday morning, officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Brevard County Animal Control and a wildlife trapper set out to capture the female sandhill crane in Brevard County.

The cranes have been dodging traffic for about a month now at the busy intersection of NASA Boulevard and Evans Road, in Melbourne.

The cranes have been pecking at cars trying to protect their nest. FWC actually moved the nest away from the busy intersection, but the cranes came back anyway.

Officials were worried that drivers might hit the birds, which are both federally and state protected.

Earlier this week, reports came in that the female crane was limping, officials said.

"The knee cap was definitely swollen," said James Dean, a wildlife trapper. "She was limping around on it. She was favoring it. When she would land, she would kind of stumble each time she would go to land."

So, the decision was made: The bird had to get medical treatment. But capturing the birds was no easy task.

The birds dodged officers before they could deploy the net gun. Eventually, the sandhill cranes took flight, but the female bird dropped to the ground -- perhaps hitting telephone wires.

Officers and the trapper were able to recover the bird alive.

"She seemed kind of lethargic, but it could be because with her hitting the ground like she did she can be dazed and stuff like that," Dean said.

The sandhill crane was taken to the Florida Wildlife Hospital in Palm Shores for treatment, where it died later Saturday morning.