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Sandhill Cranes Need Your Voice Now!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Saturday, August 10, is the deadline for receipt of comments on the proposed sandhill crane hunt in Tennessee.

If you'd like to know why it's a bad idea to shoot cranes in Tennessee, read this position statement by Jeb Barzen of Baraboo, Wisconsin's International Crane Foundation. Pretty eye-opening, and shocking.

My watercolor of a flock fired on near Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

Studies of a color-banded population of sandhill cranes show that only 39% of nests manage to produce one chick yearly. That's not the kind of juvenile recruitment rate you need to sustain hunting. In fact, it's the lowest recruitment rate of any hunted species in North America. Furthermore, the proposal as stands offers to reduce hunting pressure only when the population has declined 30%. Current models indicate that this could be too late to prevent a death spiral for this new and fragile population.

Please send an email to TWRA's Executive Director Ed Carter at

and one to Jeff McMillin at

and one to the Tenn. Wildlife Resources Authority at

In all your emails, put "Sandhill Crane" in the subject line. And let them know why you think hunting sandhill cranes is a bad idea.

No less than President Jimmy Carter and Jane Goodall have sent letters of protest. With thanks to the tireless activist Cyndi Routledge for bringing them on board. Here's my email:

Dear Mr. McMillin:

 I am writing to express my disapproval of the proposed hunt of sandhill cranes in Tennessee. I am a naturalist and author who has followed the eastern sandhill crane hunt proposals closely. The existing science does not indicate that hunting is a sustainable activity in this population, in which only 39% of nests have been shown to produce one young crane each year. This represents the lowest juvenile recruitment rate of any hunted species in North America. Furthermore, the hunt proposes curtailing harvest only after a 30% population decline, which could result in a crash from which populations may not recover. 

  Beyond the grave concern I have for populations as a whole, I strongly believe it is desirable to keep sandhill cranes in their current position as ambassadors of wild things and wild places for many thousands of appreciative observers. These birds are worth vastly more from an ecotourism standpoint alive and calling than dead in a muddy cornfield. My European and Middle Eastern ornithological colleagues recoil at the notion of huntingcranes of any species, referring to the pursuit as "obscene" and "absurd."

  I agree. And I join President Jimmy Carter and activist/behavioral scientist Jane Goodall in protesting the hunt. Please reconsider this proposal, which is based on shaky population estimates, incomplete science and an apparent desire to add an other, slightly exotic offering to the menu of huntable species in Tennessee. Just because there seem to be enough cranes to support a kill does not mean that we must or should. Bald eagles are rebounding, and have a considerably higher recruitment rate than cranes; shall we open season on them as well?


Julie Zickefoose


Thank you for sharing this story. I have submitted my letters to the three parties you listed. I still can't believe this is even considered. Adsurd is an understatement of how I feel about this proposal. Lets hope we can save the Sandhill Cranes.

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Thank you for sharing this and showing us how we can help.

I've sent e-mails to all three. Thanks for passing on the information.

Thanks Julie. I stopped everything and wrote 3 emails and sent them. I sure hope it helps.

Even though I have been a life long hunter,both upland game and waterfowl,I do not see the need or wisdom in putting these Cranes on the hunting list. I think they should be protected.

3 emails sent.

Thanks, dear one. Done: pleas for sense sent.

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Sent off the 3 emails. I don't know how much attention they pay to out of country comments but I stressed the ecotourism aspect.

Thank you for alerting us to this, Julie, and providing the email addresses to make it easier to voice our opinions. I've just sent off my three emails from Michigan, where we LOVE our Sandhill Cranes!

I just sent off my three emails. I spent a good part of my youth in Baraboo, Wisconsin, so cranes of all kinds are close to my heart. And this short-sighted, mean-hearted killing is beyond absurd. The Earth can't rebound from actions such as this. Thanks for putting the word out, Julie.

My husband and I have gone to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge to see the Sandhill Cranes every year since moving to Tennessee. I am distressed about hunting the Sandhill Cranes.

Posted by Anonymous August 10, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Thanks for sounding the alarm. I have sent my three emails in protest. May it help the Sandhill Cranes.

I sent emails. This proposal is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

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