Copy your letter to FW_Suggestions@ky.gov
Do it now, please, for the cranes. We fought them back in Tennessee; there's a two-year stay on their proposal. We can fight them back in Kentucky, too. The Kentucky Ornithological Society and the Beckham Bird Club have both come out strongly against the hunting season. Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Jon Gassett has indicated that if enough people write in protest, the proposed hunting season--due to start this December-- will be reconsidered. Nobody owns these cranes--they're free for all to enjoy. If you think it's wrong to shoot them, please take the time to email Mr. Gassett. THANK YOU!
Since 1975, hunting in the Central Flyway has taken around 20,000 cranes annually (E.M. Martin, U.S. FWS report). This represents 6% of the estimated mid-continental spring population of 322,700 birds for the same two decades. Given the projected recruitment rate, harvesting 6% of the population each year in the US alone seems to me to be cutting it too close to the edge. Kills in Canada, Alaska and Mexico are not included in the count. What about all the other birds that die from inexperience, disease, natural predation and accidents? Further, the crane take in Mexico is a free-for-all: neither regulated nor recorded.
Hunting sandhill cranes in Kentucky is a bad idea from a public relations standpoint, considering the growing cadre of birders and nature enthusiasts for whom cranes are a touchstone species. How can Kentucky possibly garner enough revenue from crane hunting to offset the outrage when birdwatchers find out that the cranes they love and travel to see are being shot? Hunting is on a steady downturn, and nonconsumptive wildlife pursuits are on a tremendous upswing. Nationwide, wildlife watchers now outspend hunters 6 to 1. The explosion in digital photography allows people to stalk wildlife without harming it. Initiating a hunting season on a large, charismatic species like a crane is no way to resuscitate hunting. It is, however, an excellent way to alienate nonconsumptive wildlife enthusiasts, and further polarize the camps.
Texas and North Dakota together account for 88% of the total yearly kill of sandhill cranes. There is evidence that a unique Canadian prairie population of lesser sandhill cranes is being selectively wiped out, since they migrate over the most heavily hunted areas of Texas. It should go without saying that the incidental kill of endangered whooping cranes is an unacceptable cost of adding another state to the shooting gallery all along both species’ migration route. Of the Central Flyway states, Nebraska alone holds out in protecting the cranes, having proven by its longstanding Festival of the Cranes in Kearney that a crane is worth infinitely more alive and purring in the sky with its family than thudding, broken and bleeding, into a cornfield. Just ask Bill Taddicken, director of the Lillian Annette Rowe Sanctuary on the Platte River in Kearney. Crane tourism brings that little town around $10 million each year in revenue, without a single shot being fired.