Urged on by “sportsmen,” the states of Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kentucky are considering open hunting seasons on Eastern Sandhill Cranes.
Now Sandhills aren’t especially good to eat, they’re not very interesting targets (they’re too big to miss unless you’re completely incompetent with a shotgun) and there are only 60,000 of them, up from only a few dozen breeding pairs in the 1930’s, at which time there was at least an excuse for hunting them — to feed depression-era families.
So, no good reason to hunt Sandhills. And of course we all know that there are only about 400 Whooping Cranes left alive in the world, and no good sportsman would ever shoot one of them, would he? Except four were killed last year by hunters: 1% of the world population gone, three of them at the same time.
The trouble is, it’s pretty hard for an expert birder like my friend Julie Zickefoose to tell the difference between a Sandhill and a whooper under less than optimum conditions, and she doesn’t sit in blinds at dawn or dusk, pumped up with adrenaline and dying to kill something. And guess what? Sandhill and Whooping Cranes flock together and migrate in the same flocks. So… How many of those Whooping Cranes — the most endangered birds in North America — are likely to get killed by hunters shooting in the less-than-perfect conditions in which birds are hunted?
Read Julie’s article in 10,000 Birds, then sign the petition to ban hunting cranes nationwide. You can find the link in Julie’s post. This plan is senseless, unnecessary, and gratuitous.