The sandhill crane is now the 'ribeye of the sky'
I was surprised by the news that Minnesota has set a sandhill crane hunting season for the first time. Somehow I was under the impression they are rare, endangered birds.
Well, now I know. They're not that rare. And while they remain protected in most of Minnesota, they are not endangered.
My family and I love hearing and seeing the cranes that live in the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, not far from our cabin in Big Lake. The cranes are tall, elegant birds. With a wingspan of up to 8 feet, they are quite a sight in flight.
Just last week, an article in the Brainerd Dispatch reinforced my impression about the status of cranes. The paper reported that authorities were looking for two teens or young men that shot at cranes. One of the birds was wounded and later euthanized.
And now in parts of Minnesota, it will be OK to hunt sandhill cranes. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced a crane season from Sept. 4, through Oct.10. The DNR says:
The open area will consist of the "Northwest Goose Zone," which includes portions of Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake and Polk counties. There will be a daily bag limit of two birds with a possession limit of four.
Outside the Northwest Goose Zone, sandhill cranes will remain protected, which means you can't shoot them.
Minnesota joins a growing list of states that allow some sandhill crane hunting. The DNR says about 450,000 sandhill cranes live in the mid-section of North America. The ideal population is about 350,00. Though once endangered, sandhill cranes "have long been considered 'recovered' and have been hunted in some states since 1961," the DNR says.
During migration, the cranes often cause crop damage.
Fall migrants feed in agricultural fields, primarily small grains and waste corn. Concentrations of fall migrants in the northwest can cause severe depredation problems, especially during wet autumns when farmers are unable to harvest swaths before September. ... As the crane population continues to expand, prevalence and severity of damage, and increased demand for depredation control should be expected.
So the DNR has concluded hunting will help keep the sandhill crane population in check. I won't be rushing out for a permit, but I can accept the rationale for a limited sandhill crane season. It's the same idea behind managing seasons and putting limits on ducks, deer and fish.
North Dakota hunters have been bagging sandhill cranes for years. The guys in this video show how they get it done.
You can buy your sandhill crane decoys at Cabela's.
And I'm certainly not the first one to type "sandhill crane recipes" into Google. Dive in and you'll see plenty of references to the tasty "ribeye of the sky," sandhill kabobs and sandhill fajitas.
There are many bird species that have a population capable of supporting a limited hunting season. That doesn't necessarily mean we should do it. What's next -- a hunting season on robins or barn swallows?
The argument is often made that a hunting season gives the target animal a human constituency. While that is sometimes true, I don't think the sandhill crane is lacking in public support. Have you seen the crowds of people that gather to watch the ancient crane migration replayed in the Platte River Valley of Nebraska every spring? It is valued as a spiritual experience. I never thought I would see the day when Nebraska became more progressive than Minnesota.
I am horrified to learn about the sandhill crane hunting season. Your story gives the impression that the hunting season was initiated to help farmers save their crops. Did farmers petition the DNR to ask for this? What's next - an eagle hunting season? A swan hunting season? I wonder whether the people in the DNR have souls.
Whooping cranes fly with sandhill cranes. How are hunters going to tell the difference? I hope DNR is prepared for protected whooping cranes to be shot too. I never thought I would see Nebraska having better environmentally conscience policies than Minnesota. Killing sandhill cranes for sport hunting is irresponsible.
May I have my 4 sandhill cranes alive, please?
Or is it against the law?
I'd like a $3.50 permission from the Minnesota DNR to gather my four sandhill cranes (at the rate of two per day) and, in a cage in the back of my pickup, drive them across the Mississippi to release them.
Why keep them protected if they're 100,000 above the ideal population? I shot one last weekend. Going to grill it tonight and test out that 'ribeye of the sky' rumor. As far as how are hunters going to tell the difference between sandhill and whooping cranes? The same way we tell the difference between duck species as well as drakes and hens. It's not like we're out there shooting anything that flies. Hunters, on the whole have a much stronger moral compass than most. Give us some credit.
Zebulun, Rin, Jeanne, Phyllis, do you eat meat? Beef, pork, chicken? Who does your killing for you? Maybe we should domesticate the Cranes and then harvesting them will be OK ....right? I am sure you are apalled with harvesting whitetail also. I wish you would come up to Northern MN when we have had a big population of deer and a bad winter to follow. Watching deer starve to death is a heart wrenching....yes..heart wrenching experience. The MN DNR does not make decisions off the cuff. Maybe you should get out into wild MN and see for yourself what is going on. Oh, by the way Rin...these same farmer supply you with food, unless you don't eat veggies...then you would be a meat eater wouldn't you....HMMMMMM.
No good reason to hunt sandhill cranes
By Loyd Ford
Posted: 12:00am on Apr 8, 2011; Modified: 1:42am on Jun 2, 2011
If they are allowed to go through with it, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will permit for the first time in over 100 years the hunting of sandhill cranes in Kentucky.
Hunters will be allowed to buy permits to shoot the birds as they migrate through the commonwealth in the winter months. What for?
These large beautiful birds have never been table fare items like ducks, geese and turkeys. There is no hard evidence our forefathers hunted them. But now because they are considered exotic and elusive they have become targets.
Their numbers have finally rebounded after nearly going the way of the carrier pigeon and the response of our agency of government that is supposed to protect wild animals is to start printing licenses to hunt them.
All of my life, I have enjoyed hunting and fishing. When I was a small boy there were lots of times if we hadn't had fish or wild game my father caught and hunted there would have only been beans and potatoes for supper. I was taught that fishing and hunting were to supply food. No fish or a single rabbit was ever caught or killed purely for sport or as a trophy.
I am a hunter and fisherman. For me, these activities are part of my heritage, crucial survival skills passed down to me long before I was ever allowed to walk alone a field with a loaded firearm. The culture of my family and my forebearers allowed for you to take only what you needed and to always use and respect what you took.
Killing a crane, an animal recognized the world over as a purveyor of peace, just doesn't make sense to me. These birds are some of the largest in North America; they have a wing span that ranges from five to eight feet and can fly as high as 10,000 feet.
Now because for the past several years a couple of western states have legalized the hunting of sandhill cranes a few people in Kentucky are lobbying to join them.
While the KDFWR says hunter success rates will be low, some evidence points in another direction.
First of all, the cranes stop over at two primary points in Kentucky, Barren River Reservoir and a four-mile square section of farmland near the town of Cecilia. The reservoir will be off limits to hunters, but the feeding grounds near Cecilia will be like shooting cranes in a barrel.
The plan now calls for offering for sale 400 permits for sandhill cranes next year as part of the state's Sandhill Crane Management Plan.
Baloney. The cranes that pass through our state are some other state's birds in the first place. They just pass through here. We aren't going to manage them. We're going to shoot them.
KDFWR ought to at least be accurate and call their plan the Sandhill Crane Shooting Plan because that, after all, is what it really is.
Killing these majestic and beautiful birds for sport is wrong. We nearly lost them once as a species and now as they have rebounded the first thing we think of is making them a target.
I have never seen a sandhill crane in the wild; I have only seen them in videos and in photographs. But just by looking at those images, I know in my heart they are too beautiful to kill. We have plenty of game animals now for those of us who hunt and fish. Why can't we just leave the cranes alone?
Some things just need to be enjoyed, appreciated and, yes, loved. Please contact our elected officials and. most importantly, the KDFWR and let them know that Kentuckians don't want a hunting season for cranes of any kind.
Loyd Ford is editor of The Lake News in Calvert City.
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Here is the reson people hunt birds like the crain's, geese, and so on. Big birds that fly in sometime huge flocks destroy millions in land, crops and other resorces. not only that but if people dont hunt animals that travel in groups then there is a greater likelyhood that a sickness can spread thru the flocks and sence most migratory birds travel with other species then they can wipe out endagerd specise like the whooping crain. also if we let them grow to much then they start to destroy there breeding grounds and that means that if a sickness does sprout and they have no where to breed then they die off. so if you are thinking how can people shoot those poor inocent birds they never did anything to us and it just so wrong think about this. animals hunt other animals, and what is worse, maybe 1000 birds dead in one year or 450,000 birds dead because nothing was stoping them from over populating.