Sandhill crane hunting proposed, opponents speak out

Sandhill Cranes. Photo Credit: Tim Kaufman

The Greater Sandhill Crane is native to Michigan and the species is as old as the dinosaurs.

There's talk in Lansing of allowing the hunting of those long-legged birds with the big wing spans.

Representative James Lower, who represents part of Gratiot county, says hunting would control the population and reduce the negative impact of cranes on crops.

But not everyone agrees.

"They are a dramatic bird, they're amazing. They're in a family group, they only have 1 or 2 young so it's a very small family,” said Barb Rogers.

Barb Rogers and Joe Rogers own the Wildlife Recovery Association in Shepherd.

They fear the proposal to hunt the cranes in Michigan would result in a slaughter of the birds.

"They're just big and they're out there and they're a very easy target. It would be very hard to have very much in the way of hunting and be able to be sure to maintain the population," said Joe Rogers.

Supporters of crane hunting say the population has grown too large and causes problems for farmers.

"I think that they should open up a season. I've been seeing an increase in the more numbers of them and they do quite a bit of crop damage," said Steve Zanin, who lives in Fowlerville and supports the idea of crane hunting.

But the Rogers say cranes don't cause much damage.

"If you compare them to the crop damage by deer by turkeys by Canada Geese all of those outnumber Sandhill Cranes massively and they spend a lot more time in the fields," said Joe Rogers.

Hunters believe restrictions would stop the cranes from dying inhumanely or becoming a threatened species.

"You're always going to have people like PETA for example that are against any sort of animal that are being killed, but as long as it's a legal and ethical way I don't see a problem with it. They say it tastes just as good as steak," said Tristian Kauffman, who also supports the hunting and lives in Yale, Michigan.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will decide whether to move forward with the proposal to hunt the birds.

You can voice your opinion on the proposal by visiting their website here.

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