Wisconsin Public Radio listeners tuned in to hear an unusual topic on-the-air one recent morning. U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Director of Federal Affairs Bill Horn was debating an Audubon society member about a potential sandhill crane hunting season in Wisconsin.
While the opposition was quick to tout that sandhills are “special” or beautiful, Horn was quick to deliver crane population stats, well documented hunting stats and waterfowl information, along with details of the impact and how such hunts are conducted in 17 other states. Listeners learned that some states require special permits, and in some cases the completion of a special crane ID course, before being able to hunt sandhill cranes.
“There are 500,000 cranes in the Central Flyway and more than 72,000 sandhill cranes in the Eastern Flyway,” noted Horn. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that this is a sufficient number of birds to make a regulated crane hunting season available to states. In the Eastern Flyway, Kentucky took advantage of this season last fall and permitted a limited hunt there.”
Horn was also quick to elaborate that sandhill cranes are smaller and gray or brown, while the endangered whooping cranes are larger and white. Wildlife biologists have determined that the hunting of sandhill cranes throughout the Plains and Rocky Mountain States has had no adverse impact on whooping cranes that migrate annually through this area.
The Audubon opposition was based mostly on personal sentiment that sandhills are “special” birds that should not be hunted. Both sides did agree that cranes damage farmers’ crops and those complaints are on the rise.
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