Attention Wisconsin!

Author: Bev Paulan

As most of our Wisconsin Craniacs are aware, Monday April 10 are the statewide Conservation Congress hearings. These hearings are being held in each and every county of the state. Follow this link for more information.   

Item number 80 on the ballot concerns whether or not the state should institute a Sandhill crane hunt.  For so many reasons, I am opposed to this proposal and I would like to share these reasons with you as talking points, so if you choose to attend the hearings and speak about this topic, you can have a few documented facts.

  1. Whooping cranes share the landscape with Sandhill cranes.
    1. WHCR migrate with SACR, co-mingle pre- and post- migration, share similar habitats, nest in the same marshes and in general share a very similar ecology.
  2. In the 16 years since Whooping cranes have been released in WI. The birds have been documented in 53 of the 72 counties, spending more than a month in 22 and nesting in 8.
  3. Whooping cranes were back in WI by March 1st this year and were here as late as December 8th last year.
  4. It is estimated that up to 20% of the released EMP Whoopers have been lost to illegal/accidental shootings, delaying success of the reintroduction significantly.
  5. Even Wisconsin has had an accidental shooting by someone who thought he was shooting a “white Sandhill”.
  6. Experienced crane biologists have difficulty telling Whoopers apart from Sandhills in certain lighting conditions (typically early and late=normal hunting hours).
  7. Sandhill cranes mate for life and generally do not successfully rear chicks until they are 4 years or older. Killing one of a pair would guarantee no successful breeding for the year and quite probably the following year.
  8. Education does not necessarily work: i.e., Trumpeter swans are consistently shot where there is Snow goose hunting.
  9. Have to carefully weigh the economical benefit of crane watchers vs. potential hunting. Juneau county economic studies have shown that the Whooping cranes have brought in millions of tourism dollars into the region.

These are just a few reasons why there should be no Sandhill crane hunt. A question I was asked by one of the Conservation Congress delegates was if there was a time when Sandhills are in the state when Whoopers are not. I answered that for possibly 2 weeks in February when the Sandhills first come back. This is a variable that I am not willing to gamble on.  With the climate changing and our Whoopers short stopping, they are coming back to the state earlier and earlier, so there will be no guarantee of that.

I hope this helps and if you can think of any other talking points, please share them.  This is an important discussion to have on Monday night.  Please show up and let them know that you and many others care about Sandhills as more than just another species to be hunted.

And remember, too, that a phone call or email to your Wisconsin legislators carry a lot of weight.  Follow this link to find yours:

Be Heard!

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  1. Catherine Wohlfeil April 11, 2017 9:15 pm

    I attended the Dane County meeting and voted. Many people there were also opposed to the hunt. Those who spoke on the issue were well informed and well spoken on the protection of the whooping cranes, protection of the sandhills, and alternate methods for preservation of crops. Hopefully this will help and make the difference…

  2. Karin Jones April 9, 2017 6:22 pm

    Why do people hunt sandhills? For food? Taxidermy? These are prehistoric birds. They should have more rights than governments or hunters. We are the caretakers not the executioners.

    • Heather Ray April 10, 2017 5:09 am

      They are consumed.

  3. Mary C. April 8, 2017 1:03 am

    They nest here in Waukesha County! At least we’ve observed them for three years. They may have before then but but we weren’t watching at that point. I have picture.

  4. Mary Ellen O’Brien April 7, 2017 2:14 pm

    Thanks, Bev, for the excellent talking points. I will attend the Dane County meeting. As a reminder to those reading this Field Journal entry, the upcoming public hearing at which this advisory vote will be taken, applies only to Wisconsin residents.

  5. Darla Ritchie April 7, 2017 11:11 am

    Please do not open a hunting season on the Sandhill Cranes. They are finally off the endangered list and now the state wants to start killing them again.

  6. Mindy April 7, 2017 11:10 am

    I would be glad to write an e mail but who should I send it to? I’m not in the state but I can sure voice my opinion if you think it would help.

    • Heather Ray April 8, 2017 4:53 am

      The vote and public comments are open to Wisconsin residents only.

      • Mindy April 8, 2017 11:14 am

        Yes I know….just thought they would at least read an e mail from an out-of-stater…thanks Heather

  7. Beth Sluys April 7, 2017 10:44 am

    Folks should really go and vote at the county meeting hearings. If a resolution gets voted down, then it is taken off the final congress ballot for later voting and sent back to its author. So attending the meetings, registering and voting is important!!

  8. Jean Mansavage April 7, 2017 9:53 am

    Can you provide a retort to those farmers who want the hunt because Sandhills eat their spring seed? I know there is some specially treated seed to keep birds away, but I don’t have the facts to relay to my elected reps. Thank you.

  9. Mollie Cook April 7, 2017 9:48 am

    THANK YOU Bev for these talking points! I pray this hunt does not come to pass. As always, thank you for your dedication to the Whoopers & other wildlife conservation. We appreciate you!