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OPINION

Letter to the editor: Hunting season on sandhill cranes needed to solve overpopulation

David Gneiser
Letter to the Editor

Anne Lacy totally ignores the real issues of Wisconsin's sandhill crane problems. First of all, Taylor Finger, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources migratory bird specialist, testified recently that "the WI sandhill crane population is more than double the ideal population."

Now that poses a threat that crane-huggers themselves should be concerned about. Nature sends in diseases when species are overpopulated. A managed hunt would be better for the sandhill crane population's health by thinning the flock. And while Lacy denies a hunt would make a difference in farmers' crop losses, simple math dictates that reducing crane numbers means less beaks to feed. Managed hunting to reduce crane numbers by half will reduce the damage by the same amount.

Lacy parrots the International Crane Foundation mantra that Avipel is the answer. Well, no, Avipel doesn't always work. A heavy spring rain washes the seed treatment off the planted seed. Nor did we read any offer by the ICF to financially compensate farmers for the added expense of Avipel seed treatment. Not a surprise, of course. Lacy wrote, "The ICF is willing to take the lead in finding real solutions for farmers." Yeah, and "your check is in the mail," too.

Now I'm certain Lacy knows, but isn't admitting, that sandhill cranes are already spring hunted in Wisconsin, should farmers purchase a US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services permit. Lacy can do a computer search of outdoor writer Pat Durkin's May 27, 2017 column which says that USDA permit shooters killed 842 sandhill cranes in the spring 2016. In spring 2015, 652 sandhill were shot by permit. Yet Lacy claims hunting would be ineffective. A phone call by Lacy to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office should get her the more recent totals. Durkin also points out that crane damage isn't just to sprouting corn. Cranes are "coring row upon row of ripe potatoes."

By permit rules, the harvested cranes cannot be eaten. Burning or burying is the prescribed disposal. What a sad waste of good meat. An even sadder loss for license-buying Wisconsin hunters for another recreational opportunity. Oh well, the ICF will just continue to block any solution to the sandhill crane population explosion. They will continue to mouth words that they care about Wisconsin farmers, but their checkbook is locked up tight. The ICF continues to give us the birds.

David Gneiser

Berlin, Wis.