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.
- Whooping cranes share the landscape with Sandhill cranes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Whooping cranes were back in WI by March 1st this year and were here as late as December 8th last year.
- 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.
- Even Wisconsin has had an accidental shooting by someone who thought he was shooting a “white Sandhill”.
- Experienced crane biologists have difficulty telling Whoopers apart from Sandhills in certain lighting conditions (typically early and late=normal hunting hours).
- 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.
- Education does not necessarily work: i.e., Trumpeter swans are consistently shot where there is Snow goose hunting.
- 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: http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/