Sandhill crane hunt not right for Wisconsin
We at the International Crane Foundation sincerely thank writer Patrick Durkin for reporting on his discussion with UW-Madison Professor Emeritus Thomas Heberlein regarding a sandhill crane hunt in Wisconsin. Thank you for the accolades regarding our work. Our members, volunteers, board and staff take great pride in our worldwide conservation efforts for all 15 crane species and the wetlands, grasslands and agricultural lands they depend on.
We agree this topic is polarizing among diverse people who must work together to save wild things and wild places. The remarkable recovery of sandhill cranes in Wisconsin has been successful because these birds and their habitats are valued and supported by hunters, farmers, rural landowners and wildlife enthusiasts alike. To some, cranes are a game species; for most of our members, they evoke a strong emotional and spiritual connection.
A well-intended but misdirected belief about the Wisconsin sandhill crane hunt proposal is that a fall hunt would somehow alleviate spring crop damage. Applying Avipel, a non-toxic bird deterrent that the International Crane Foundation helped develop, is a much more effective solution to spring corn crop damage. To learn more, see savingcranes.org/sandhill-crane-crop-damage.
Accidental shootings of endangered whooping cranes misidentified by well-intentioned hunters also is a concern. Our tracking data of all known whooping crane mortalities in other states indicates that misidentification during sandhill crane hunts does occur. ICF has worked for decades to reintroduce endangered whooping cranes to Wisconsin, but the population remains highly vulnerable to shootings.
These concerns and others have led us to conclude that a sandhill crane hunt is not right for Wisconsin. But we applaud further discussion aimed at finding common ground among those who love the Wisconsin outdoors.
president and CEO, International Crane Foundation