Sandhill Cranes Lose Vote in Wisconsin

At the annual Conservation Congress meetings held this month in Wisconsin, the question of whether to approve a Sandhill crane hunt was asked once again. In fact, it is raised every year like an ongoing battle that can never be won for more that twelve months at a time.

Operation Migration supports hunting and believes it provides an important service. Mankind has tipped the balance of nature by removing many predators. Without that natural governance, some species can over populate with negative ramifications. Canada geese are a prime example. They were once considered the legends of the fall and their annual migration marked the changing of the seasons with more accuracy than the Farmer’s Almanac. But we interfered with the equilibrium that kept their numbers in check and now they are hated by golfers, park visitors, farmers and anyone who owns waterfront property. In some places, they have reached epidemic numbers and hunting is a good method of restoring the balance.

But it sometimes feels like the hunter’s appetite is insatiable. There is yearly pressure to hunt every avian species from Mourning doves to Tundra swans and it’s not like we are over run with either.

It wasn’t that long ago when Sandhill cranes were on a clear path to extinction. It took them more than seventy years to recover from over hunting, but they are now back on the list. Sandhill cranes lost the vote with 2349 people in favor of a hunt and 2049 against it.

Cranes are not like other game species. Geese begin to breed when they are two years old and average five goslings per season. Wild turkeys reach sexual maturity in ten months and lay as many as eight to twelve eggs at a time. But cranes don’t breed until they are four or five and sometimes as late as eight years old. And they are lucky if one chick survives per season. It can take years to recover from a poor breeding season when snow stays late and food is in short supply or spring floods wash away nests. Hunting quotes are not governed by an individual good or bad breeding season. Instead, the crane census is calculated using distance sampling methods where their numbers are estimated with a wide margin for error. As an example, the annual count of Whooping cranes in their limited winter range in Texas, was estimated at 329 individuals during the winter of 2015/16. Although the confidence interval was set at 95%, the range of birds that may or may not be there, extended from 293 to 371. That’s a spread of almost 80 birds. Counting Sandhill cranes over most of the contiguous states is far more complex with a great margin of error and the effects of hunting during a couple of bad breeding seasons, could dramatically impact a still recovering species like cranes.

Then, of course, there is the concern of Whooping cranes being shot by mistake and that is not a case of if it happens, but when. We have worked closely with Whooping cranes for sixteen years and seen more of them than any hunter. Yet there are times when they are back-lit and appear something less that pure white and even we cannot be sure. Both species use the same habitat and often fly together and a misidentification will happen. More than 20 Whooping cranes in the Eastern Migratory Population have been shot since 2007.

If the laws that protect them were more enforceable, we might be slightly more confident but to be charged under the Endangered Species Act, the prosecutor must be able to prove intent. There must be clear evidence that the shooter knew they were killing an endangered species. “I thought it was an albino Sandhill” can be a sufficient defense. And the birds in Wisconsin are all part of the Eastern Migratory Population that is considered Experimental/ Non-Essential. They have the status of Threatened not Endangered.

Then there is the judicial system – a judge in Indiana who issued a one-dollar fine to a minor who used a rifle to kill the female of the first breeding pair of migratory Whooping cranes to produce a chick in Wisconsin since the last nest was reported in 1878. Each one of those birds represents an investment of over one hundred thousand dollars in privately raised money.

With laws that are expensive to prosecute and difficult to enforce, a judicial system that issues token sentences, a census method with large margins of error, a slow to reproduce species and the inevitable mistaken shooting of a Whooping crane, maybe a little prudence is in order.

Hunters and conservationists are not two different encampments. Both are concerned about the environment and we need to come together someplace in the middle.  I saw a bumper sticker in Alabama last week that proudly stated, “I’m a gun totin’ tree hugger.” It’s time for the tree huggers to give the hunters the respect they richly deserve and maybe the hunters can give a reprieve to a couple of species that just made it back from the brink of extinction but could still use a break.

The outcome of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress vote does not mean that the Sandhill crane hunt is approved. There is a long process ahead so if you disagree with the outcome of the vote, make your opinions known to your legislator.

Here’s a map to look up your representative along with their contact information.

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Returning Home

Some of you may recall the four DAR whooping cranes, which were retrieved from Michigan in early May 2016 and released in Marquette County, WI. Cranes 61, 62, 63 and 67-15 had spent their first winter in Randolph County, IL and soon after initiating their first spring journey north, they ended up in Michigan.

The decision to capture and relocate them was made after watching their movements via their GSM cellular transmitters. Moving them back to Wisconsin, we hoped, would reorient them and give them a better chance of finding mates in the future.

Once back in Wisconsin the foursome made a visit to Horicon NWR in Dodge County, where they were initially released in the fall of 2015 but soon after ventured west and appeared to follow the Mississippi river until they arrived back at their previous winter’s location in Randolph County, IL – at the end of May… a tad early to be at a wintering location.

Sadly, male crane number 62-15 was found dead beneath a powerline in December 2016. The three remaining cranes, numbers 61-15*, 63-15 & 67-15* stayed in Randolph County for another winter season… until early April!

The satellite data on 1 April placed female 67-15 a couple of counties to the north in Illinois. She, at least, was on her way north. The young male number 63-15 does not have a remote tracking device and the last hit we’ve received for the other female, number 61-15 was dated 5 March so we had no way of knowing if the three were still traveling together until we could get eyes on them.

A hit for 67-15 last week, placed her in Dodge County, WI and back at Horicon NWR so I contacted Doug Pellerin to see if he would head over to try to visually confirm her presence and hopefully her two traveling companions.

Sure enough – all three were together! These three do know where Wisconsin is! 

Female 61-15 on the left, followed by female 67-15 and male 63-15 on the right. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Photo: Doug Pellerin

Don’t forget – if you spot a whooping crane, be sure to jot down their unique legband color combinations on each leg and fill out the public sightings form.

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It’s Breeding Season!

Wisconsin DNR pilot Bev Paulan flew a survey last week over the state and observed the following pairs incubating:

42-09*/24-09; 5-11/12-11*; 13-03*/9-05; W1-06*/1-10; 12-03*/29-09; 32-09*/7-07; 18-02*/13-02; 5-10*/28-08; 24-08*/14-08 and 1-11/59-13*. (* indicates female)

Doug Pellerin visited Necedah NWR over the weekend and sent along the following images, which show the pair consisting of 3-09 (F) and 3-04 (M) with one egg. Since this pair was not seen nesting on 5 April when Bev completed her aerial survey, this is likely the first egg for the two and a second egg will be produced very soon (if not already).

Dad (3-04) incubating at Necedah NWR. Mom 9-03 returns to the nest. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Nest exchange with one egg visible. Photo: Doug Pellerin

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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:  http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/

Be Heard!

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A Nice “Surprise”

All the way from Surprise, Arizona!

Occasionally, we get some pretty neat packages in the mail. The latest came from Teacher Liz Winters’ gr 2 class in Surprise, AZ. Ms. Winters’ students had obviously just learned about OM’s efforts to reintroduce Whooping cranes and had each taken the time to draw a picture and write a few words. 

We thought it would be fun to share them with you so that we’re not the only ones enjoying their creativity… With so many great submissions, it was difficult to narrow it down to just a couple so we’ll post one at a time over the next few weeks. 

First up – Alice, Imagine Rosefield School.

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OK Henry…

Where’s Peanut???

Tom Schultz found and photographed male Whooping crane number 5-12 on Friday evening, March 31st at White River Marsh in Green Lake County, WI.

You may recall Colleen watched this crane leaving St. Marks NWR alongside his buddy #4-14 (Peanut) a week earlier on March 24th.

So the mystery remains for now… Since he didn’t return to the marsh with #5-12, where did he stop? Where is Peanut spending his summers?

If we find out, we’ll let you know.

Whooping crane 5-12 (M) in Green Lake County, WI. Photo: Tom Schultz

 

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Sisyphus: Part Two

The morning darkness had not yet released the dawn when I picked up Colleen and pointed the headlights towards Lowndesboro, Alabama, four and half hours to the north. We soon fell into the rhythms of interstate transport which, though soothing, could not suppress the haunting dread that we were in fact heading for the scene of a very sad and terrible accident.

Memories of our little “Tiny Dancer,” 8-14, began crowding in. No one who ever entered the pen that first year at St. Marks could ever forget her. Every morning without fail she would greet us at the gate with excited anticipation, looking up quizzically, “What kept you”? Then, as if on cue, she would burst into an explosion of the most dazzling and delightful dance imaginable. With playful spins and joyful vaults, she “Whirling Dervished” upon the surface of some invisible vortex as she boomeranged around the marsh in ever-expanding circles.

She paused periodically to look up at us from a low, still crouch as if searching her audience for approval. We stood mesmerized, completely captivated by her masterful display of choreography. For those magical moments, we belonged to her… and she knew it. Then, as quickly as it had begun, it ended. She established re-entry and soon joined her flockmates in the pursuit of the usual as if it had all been imagined.

The hours passed quickly and soon the windows filled with familiar Alabama countryside as the voice of our smartphone’s “Miss Google” announced, “Nostalgia Tour begins here.” We suddenly felt like Time Travelers in a Way Back Machine as blacktop turned to gravel and then to dirt, funneling us onto the long driveway leading to the farm… and our old migration stop. “It’s getting harder and harder to know when real life ends and Me TV begins,” I said.

The memories climbed aboard. Just off to the right was a pasture and on it a white costumed figure magically appeared, leading a bunch of white birds away from an ultralight aircraft. I remembered how happy and relieved I felt that morning back in 2016. Flight Surgeons refer to it as Destination Appreciation. It had been one of the more challenging migration flights. Just after takeoff and not long in the air, a series of ponds and wetlands rolled out from beneath the horizon and on them stood some beautifully neon white egrets inviting our little flight of whoopers to land and “feel the love.”

First one bird, then another and another heard the siren call, dropped off the wing and headed down to the little oasis as the all too familiar rodeo began. The aircraft became crowded. “And you always wanted to be a cowboy,” my invisible friend scornfully reminded me from the backseat. I then felt the menace of that rabid dog… the one named, “Be careful what you wish for” that lives under my seat less than two inches from my keester, as it lunged forward for a chomp while the fates snuggled close and whispered sarcastically, “So …what’s it like to fly with birds”? Their laughter was almost deafening as the all too familiar, sweat producing exercise in aerial persuasion commenced. “Why me, Lord?  Why meeee!”

We yanked and banked around the sky. Minutes felt like hours as the sweat soaked through the layers under my snowmobile suit. However, after a “forever” of drawing obscene aerial geometric figures in the sky, the birds reattached and we were once again back on track… sort of. It soon became clear that one bird, the one way in the back of the line, simply lacked conviction and it wasn’t long before it left us to land in an ag field. There, it would have to wait for Joe to land with it and for Richard to arrive in the tracking van and box it up for transport to the next stop. No Frequent Flyer Miles for this little migrant.

Then, no sooner had we achieved a tentative aerial harmony when the fates, in their never satisfied addiction for chaos and entertainment, began shaking us around with rough air. The sweat pump went into overdrive. The minutes passed unenthusiastically until just up ahead appeared this wonderfully welcoming pasture beaconing sanctuary and solace. Across its spine, Stephen had mowed and manicured a landing strip and soon we were safely landed upon it. A herd of cows huddled nearby in rapt confusion. “Now that’s something you don’t see every day” one of them said to the other. “No more of that fermented feed for us!  Who knew?” the other replied. As the birds followed the costumed figure off to hide in wait for the ground crew to arrive and set up the pen, the phone vibrated to life.  “Where are you”? Joe asked in a hushed, obviously with a bird voice. “There”, I replied in an equally hushed, obviously with a bird voice. “I’m There.”

And I was. Right over there in that pasture. “Better speed it up.” Colleen said. “We have a very long day ahead of us and Stephen and Jo are waiting.”

One of the greatest pure pleasures of this project were our stopover hosts. They were the incredibly kind and generous folks who, year after year, welcomed our not so little caravan of gypsy crane migrators into their homes… and their lives… and provided an oasis of caring and protection for the birds. I could never figure out where such incredible people came from but I know it must have been from a very special place. To me, they were… and will always be… the true heroes of our whooping crane reintroduction effort. Perhaps that is why our annual migration leg arrivals felt so much more like homecomings than mere reunions.

“You made it”! Jo greeted us at the end of the driveway. She hadn’t changed a bit. Nor had her husband Stephen, which made me wonder, had I? “Same old tracking van, I see” he said, smiling, as I suddenly realized I was again standing in that special place of warmth and caring. Then it was down to business.  “We got permission from the landowner to look for the bird” Jo said. “We also got permission to go on the adjacent state land if we need to.” Jo had previously scouted the target area but the tall vegetation and lack of telemetry equipment made the search difficult at best.

“Ready to rock and roll”, Sisyphus asked from the other side of the rearview mirror?

“Who brought HIM along”, I queried my invisible friend?

We were soon rolling back down the driveway following Stephen and Jo as our search began.

— To be continued —

More Returnees

Each week, Doug Pellerin travels over several counties to check on Whooping cranes on their summer territories.

Last week he checked on a few cranes in Marquette and Green Lake counties, in addition to a quick check on number 18-11 near Horicon NWR.

Doug was concerned because he wasn’t able to locate parent reared crane number 30-16 so he went back on Saturday, April 1 for another look. Success! He found 30-16 foraging in corn stubble with 2 yr. old Whooping cranes 10 & 11-15!

Whooping cranes 10-15 (F), 11-15 (M) and 30-16 (M) foraging in Green Lake County, WI. Photo: Doug Pellerin

10-15, 11-15 & 30-16 take flight. Photo: Doug Pellerin

Doug sent along some additional details. “30-16 was one of the Parent Reared chicks released last fall and after a short time he was adopted by adult pair 4-12 & 3-14 aka the Royal Couple and spent the rest of the fall foraging around White River Marsh. In early December the three of them took to the skies and headed south for the winter.?

?About a month ago when I was tracking in the marsh I found the three of them back near their regular territory and as I watched them over the next couple of weeks, I noticed 30-16 was close to the Royal Couple but not really close. Last Wednesday when I went to do my weekly tracking duties he was nowhere to be found and I looked everywhere he typically spent time. I grew concerned that he was missing so last Saturday I decided to go over to the marsh again and see if I could find him. I tried tracking through the marsh again with no luck. I decided to expand my search area and eventually found him off the marsh and to my surprise, with 10 & 11-15 foraging in a corn field.
It seems the Royal Couple may have kicked him out of their territory and traditionally that’s what breeding pairs do in the spring.
?
I think it will benefit 30-16 to be with this new pair. They’re not old enough to have any young of their own yet. So I think they can teach him things that a young whooping crane? needs to know to survive in the wild.”

EMP Update

Whooping Crane Update – April 1, 2017 

Below is the most recent update for the Eastern Migratory Population of Whooping Cranes. During February, most Whooping Cranes began migration and at least one has returned to Wisconsin. A huge thank-you to the staff of Operation Migration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Natural Resources, the International Crane Foundation, and all of the volunteers who help us keep track of the cranes throughout the year. We appreciate your contribution to the recovery of the whooping crane eastern migratory population.

Population Estimate

The current maximum population size is 99 (45 F, 52 M, 2 U). As of 1 April, most Whooping Cranes have completed migration and are in Wisconsin. However, a few have not yet migrated and are in Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. See map below. A few breeding pairs have begun nest building and a nesting update will be in next month’s report.

2015 Wild Chicks

W10_15 has returned to Wisconsin and was seen alone at Necedah NWR in Juneau County.

W18_15 and male 16-04 have returned to Wisconsin and were seen at Necedah NWR by the end of March.  

Parent-Reared 2015 Cohort

14_15 (F) has returned to Wisconsin and is currently in Juneau County.

20_15 (M) left Saint Martin Parish, LA by 18 March, and has returned to Wisconsin. He is currently in Adams County, WI.

DAR 2015 Cohort

61_15 (F), 63_15 (M), and 67_15 (F) continue to be in Randolph Co, IL.

65_15 (F) was in Will County, IL as of 22 March.

66_15 (F) and 68_15 (F) were last reported in LaPorte County, IN, but have likely moved north.  

UL 2015 Cohort

2_15 (F) left Jasper Co, IN and was with female 28_05 in Marathon County, WI by 19 March.

6_15 (F) and 38-09 left Greene Co, IN and are currently in Juneau County, WI.

8_15 (F) spent all of March in Sumter Co, AL. Note: it appears she began migrating north on 2 April).

10_15 (F), and (presumably) 11_15 (M) left Lasalle Co, IL and migrated to Wisconsin by 26 March, and are currently in Green Lake County.  

Parent-Reared 2016 Cohort

29_16 (M) and 39_16 (M) spent all of March in Dyer Co, TN.

30_16 (M) was with 4_12 and 3_14 in Miller Co, GA in March, but by 24 March had returned to Wisconsin and was seen in Green Lake County.

31_16 (M) and 38_16 (M) spent March in Poinsett Co, Arkansas. 38_16 was found dead (see below), but 31_16 continues to be in the area.

33_16 (F) spent all of March in Citrus Co, FL.

69_16 (F) left Indiana during March and spent some time in Will County, IL. On 22 March, she left Will County and migrated back to Wisconsin. She spent a little time in Sauk County, before heading to her current location in Wood County, WI.  

70_16 (M) is still at Wheeler NWR, AL, associating with Sandhill Cranes.

71_16 (F) left Jasper Co, IN on 22 March, and headed north to Wisconsin, where she was last reported in Grant County. 

Mortality

38_16 (M) was in Poinsett County, AR with 31_16 (M), and was found dead on 8 March, likely due to vehicle collision.

8_14 (F) left St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refute with mate 4_13 on 6 March. PTT hits put her in Lowndes County, GA on the same day. Her remains were collected on 26 March and the cause of death is not yet determined.

 

Sisyphus

Everybody knows about Sisyphus, even if they don’t. Especially those of us in Crane World where the old boy is, in fact, our Patron Saint. Each of us wears an invisible medal around our neck which says, “Sisyphus, Good Luck with That.” Sisyphus was, of course, the guy in Greek Mythology who displeased the gods and was sentenced to spend eternity pushing a boulder up to the top of a mountain only to have them push it back down again… and again. Sound familiar?

On the morning of March 6th, Colleen called from St. Marks to say 4-13 (Mack) and 8-14 just took off on migration. “That figures”! I smiled, shaking my head. It was the first morning I hadn’t seen them since arriving in December. I sat instead in a cancer ward observing a dozen and a half or so patients, one of them my mother, sitting in neat rows, each physically diminished but with calm nobility, staring off into more yesterdays than tomorrows as drips of chemical hope dripped into them from IV bags hanging above.

“Happy Landings,” I said silently, as I imagined the next installment of excitement when they would magically appear again in Wisconsin.  And this year, they would arrive with the special promise of renewal because they are likely to nest. They’re finally old enough and wise enough and it’s time.

The next day, Heather texted that #8-14’s satellite hit placed them all the way up in Alabama… only a few miles from one of our migration stops. Wow! Whoopers just never lose their ability to amaze! It was imaginary high fives all around, although we have long ago learned that it is unwise to tease the fates with too much celebration. They are as vigilant as they are unforgiving.

As the days progressed, our focus was on Henry and Peanut, who had happily taken up residence in and around the pen. Thought balloons containing the word, “Mine” bobbed above their heads. They spent their days in blissful procrastination, merrily foraging and wondering about, thinking about and planning for the upcoming migration… but not really. Watching them was fun. It is always fascinating how reducing the number of cranes observed… in this case from four to two… so sharpens our focus and magnifies everything about them. These were happy days indeed. Two down, two to go.

On March 23rd, Heather texted that a satellite hit for 8-14 just came in and she was still in the same area of Alabama. I felt a sudden chill. Later in the day, Bev sent a screen grab of the Google Earth hits.  Though not of great quality, the hits related movement and activity but their inherent inaccuracy caused suspicion.

The following day, the long predicted perfect migration day finally arrived. Colleen called from the marsh to report that Henry and Peanut had just boarded the crane train and left the station on their migration to Wisconsin. This time I was seated in the dentist’s chair, mouth agape singing “Ahhhh” accompanied by the sound of the cash register harmonizing happily from the front desk. Since I was in Tallahassee, north of the Refuge, I ran out to the tracking van to try for a signal… but was greeted by the roar of silence. Looking up into an empty sky, the quiet prayer rose again, “Happy Landings,” as I gave the steering wheel a touchdown victory “chest bump” and ”High Five’d” the rearview mirror. Then, regaining my composure, I sat back and waited for the other shoe to drop.

And it did. The next day we received another satellite hit on 8-14 from the same area as before… as an imagined doorbell rang with two military officers standing somber faced at the front door. We would soon be driving north to Alabama.

               ….to be continued.

Proposed Sandhill Crane Hunt

On April 10th, the people of Wisconsin will vote on whether or not to allow Sandhill cranes to be hunted. That question has been asked before and, although it has not been approved in the past, the pressure to add them to the list of game species grows as their numbers increase.

It wasn’t long ago that most people thought Sandhill cranes were doomed to extinction but now they are the most common wildlife we see around White River Marsh. A generation earlier, that story of remarkable recovery is also true of Canada geese. When I was young, a honking chevron high overhead foretold of spring or the coming of snow and was rare enough to cause folks to pause and point.

There are an estimated seven million Canada geese in North America and the birds we once thought of as legends of the fall are now referred to as flying carp. That transition from magnificent wildlife to golf course pest was driven by numbers. A pair of geese on a local pond is an inspiring sight but 500 on the same pond will foul the habitat, disturb the peace, and pollute the water. We reintroduced Canada geese when the numbers were low, but geese are like cranes – they learn migration behavior from their parents. We also built more parks and golf courses, and pushed out most of their natural predators like foxes, wolves, and coyotes. We tipped nature out of balance and left it unchecked, and now many people hate geese. 

The North American population of Sandhill cranes is up to 700 thousand and growing. Already they are referred to as “reverse seed drills” as some farmers report how adept they are at walking up the rows of freshly planted corn, pulling out the kernels as efficiently as the planters can deposit them. I worry that as the numbers grow, these icons of wildness and their story of recovery from the edge of extinction will begin to tarnish and a once magnificent creature will turn into a pest in the eyes of the public.

Still, their numbers are not nearly high enough yet and they are already hunted in 17 US states. Sandhill and Whooping cranes use the same habitat and the chance of misidentifying them is real. Even for experts, a white crane backlit against an even whiter sky can look grey. The vast majority of hunters are wildlife enthusiasts, respectful of the rules, and the ethics of hunting. But, even if there is no misidentification, a Sandhill shot at a popular roosting site will deter a Whooping crane from ever returning to that once safe haven. There are precious few roosting sites for cranes now. Wetlands represent only a small fraction of the habitat in Wisconsin, and mass disturbance will increase that shortage.

There is a good argument for allowing the hunting of many species and, to be perfectly honest, the hunting organizations pay for a good portion of the conservation work done in Wisconsin. Groups like Ducks Unlimited protect habitat, plus funds from hunting licence fees and taxes on ammunition go to support conservation. Hunting can help restore the balance when natural predators are removed and populations of prey species explode. Eventually the hunting of Sandhill cranes might be necessary but we are not there yet. There are other ways to mitigate crop losses. And, with only a hundred Whooping cranes in the eastern flock, accidental shooting or disturbance could be the difference between survival and failure.

For a county-by-county listing of locations for the April 10th hearings, see the DNR webpage

For more details on the story visit:

http://wsobirds.org/about-wso/news/402-state-sandhill-crane-hunt-under-consideration-again

Can You HELP?

Monthly contributions can be processed more efficiently than single or one-time gifts, resulting in a higher percentage of your gift being directed to our work – and you are in control! At any time, you can increase, decrease, pause or stop your support, all at your convenience.

Your monthly gift will help ensure that we are able to continue our work to safeguard Whooping cranes and continue our education and outreach efforts.

When you become a NEW monthly donor, OR increase your current monthly donation amount, you will receive a special hand-folded origami crane made by Mako Pellerin.

Mako has very graciously offered to create a limited number of beaded hanging origami cranes made from the paper used to create last year’s GIANT origami crane, which greeted Whooping Crane Festival attendees in Wisconsin.Students from the Princeton School – along with Mako, very carefully folded the origami crane pictured above, and which boasted a wingspan of more than 30 feet and stood close to 10 feet tall!

Mako saved some of the paper from that special crane to create these smaller origami “off-spring” cranes for you!

In Japanese culture, the crane is a mystical creature and is believed to live for a thousand years. Cranes represent good fortune and longevity and are referred to as the “bird of happiness.”

We hope this very special origami crane will bring you all of these qualities… In addition to your special origami crane, we’ll also send you an instruction sheet for folding more origami cranes!

When you become a monthly supporter you help to provide OM with a reliable, low-cost stream of revenue that sustains our ongoing work and allows us to better forecast for budgeting purposes.

It’s super easy to join and you can contribute any amount you like on a monthly basis: $
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