← Sandhill Crane Conservation
In early February 2012 a state-wide discussion was re-ignited after a bill proposing a regulated Sandhill Crane hunt in Wisconsin was introduced. The bill was not voted on during the state 2012 legislative session, but the bill may be proposed again in the future. With over 20 years of research on Sandhill Cranes and over 15 years of experience reintroducing the endangered Whooping Crane to Wisconsin, ICF is an active participant in this issue through our sharing of data and expertise, as well as direct discussions with those concerned about the hunt decision.
ICF believes that a decision on Sandhill Crane hunting must be made with the Wisconsin conservation traditions of using good science, consideration of diverse input, and maintaining a shared vision for healthy wildlife populations on healthy landscapes. The citizens of Wisconsin must be informed about the issues and participate in the decision of whether or not to have a Sandhill Crane hunting season in Wisconsin. Here are some points to consider:
A Sandhill Crane hunt in Wisconsin could have a detrimental effect on the state’s breeding Sandhill Cranes
While it is possible to harvest Sandhill Cranes on a sustainable basis, Wisconsin’s Sandhill Crane population has recovered from near extirpation over the last 50 years, and forms the primary breeding component of the entire Eastern Population (all the Sandhill Cranes east of the Mississippi River). Therefore, there should only be a Sandhill Crane hunting season in Wisconsin if there is no risk of over-harvest of local breeding birds.
Possible effects to the newly reintroduced Whooping Crane population
ICF and partners have been working for 16 years to reintroduce the endangered Whooping Crane to Wisconsin. This new population, now numbering over 100 birds, is sensitive to disturbance and highly vulnerable to any deaths of adult cranes. A Sandhill Crane hunting season in Wisconsin would likely increase risks to Whooping Cranes. Long-term, intensive hunt management, including closely monitoring the areas Whooping Cranes use and closing those areas to hunting, would be critical to minimize this risk.
A Sandhill Crane hunt in Wisconsin is not a solution to crop damage
As this discussion continues, it is critical that people understand that fall hunting will not help solve crop damage (caused when cranes feed on recently planted corn kernels in the spring). Solutions to crop damage caused by cranes are available now, including Avipel(with the plant-based active ingredient anthraquinone), a deterrent that can be applied to corn before it is planted. Treated kernels are not consumed by cranes (the kernels taste bad to the cranes), but the cranes continue feeding in the field on other food items, such as insects and small mammals.
Learn more about this research and the use of Avipel to stop crop damage, and download the fact sheet Protect your corn from cranes.
It is critical to stay involved in the decision about Sandhill Crane hunting in your state. Voice your opinion through the following forums.
Contact your State Representative and share your opinion on a Sandhill Crane hunt in Wisconsin:
Directory of State Legislatures
Migratory Game Bird Ecologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Coordinator for Wisconsin citizens concerned about the proposal to hunt Sandhill Cranes
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission voted on August 23, 2013 to approve a limited Sandhill Crane hunting season in the state (learn more about the decision).
Prior to the decision, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) accepted public comment on the proposal. View ICF's comments submitted to the TWRA.
Click here to learn more about the discussion of Sandhill Crane hunting in Tennessee.
Federal and state conservation agencies have created a management plan for the Eastern Population of Greater Sandhill Cranes that identifies the framework for hunting in this population:
Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes (2010)
Articles from The ICF Bugle:
Notes from the President (2012)
A Crane Hunt? (2010-2011)
A Crane Hunt for Wisconsin? (1997)
Cranes on the Farm (1996)