Sandhill crane hunting season draws fireby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Complaints are surfacing about the DNR's plan for a season on sandhill cranes.
Audubon Minnesota and the Minnesota Conservation Federation say the DNR bypassed its usual public input process.
Audubon's Don Arnosti says the DNR seems to be trying to avoid controversy.
"We're appalled at the unilateral actions of the commissioner to take a species that has been in protected status for a century in this state, and in the middle of the summer, with no public hearings, just announce that there will be basically an over-the-counter sale of these birds for anybody who wants to take them," he said.
The DNR announced the season this month. It will take place in far northwestern Minnesota in September and early October.
The DNR's Steve Merchant says the agency did put the word out it was considering a season on sandhill cranes, but didn't need to ask anyone's permission.
"We know that there's a segment of our population that they're going to be as opposed to this as hunting mourning doves, anything," Merchant said. "None of those minds were going to be changed through a public input process."
Merchant says the population of sandhill cranes is robust enough to handle a hunt.
Ten other states in the mid-continent flyway have allowed hunting for some time.