- Michigan Audubon members and conservationists in Michigan
- United States of America
POSITION STATEMENT ON SANDHILL CRANE HUNTING IN MICHIGAN
Response to SR30 and HR61
April 10, 2019
Senate Resolution 30, introduced by Sen. Dale Zorn (Republican) of Ida on April 9, 2019, and House Resolution 61, introduced by Rep. James Lower (Republican) of Cedar Lake on April 10, 2019, encourage the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add Sandhill Cranes to the game species list and seeks U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval to establish a hunting season for these birds.
As Michigan’s oldest conservation organization dedicated to conservation, education, and research, Michigan Audubon opposes these resolutions and the designation of the Sandhill Crane as a game species in the state of Michigan. We believe, based on scientific and wildlife management data, that this species should continue receiving protection from the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The Sandhill Crane’s history is a conservation success story and one we need to work to actively support with wise conservation decisions. Just a hundred years ago, the Sandhill Crane population in Michigan hit an all-time low. This species was hunted nearly to extinction and suffered greatly from the loss of suitable wetland habitat throughout the state. Due in large part to the passage and protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Sandhill Crane population today is stable. This bird’s eastern population has recovered, and they are now abundant throughout the Mississippi Flyway, a bird migration route that generally follows the Mississippi River in the United States and the Mackenzie River in Canada.
Michigan’s healthy Sandhill Crane population is likely a source population for neighboring regions where populations are still recovering. In neighboring states like Ohio, Sandhill Cranes are still considered endangered. Ohio’s Sandhill Crane population has grown substantially in the last decade (largely concentrated on the shared state border with Michigan), which is likely attributable to the dispersal of Michigan’s robust population. Zeroing in on the Michigan population of Sandhill Cranes is short-sighted and does not account for the bigger ecological picture that requires sound conservation and management decisions. Hunting of this vulnerable population could put this bird at significant risk.
Appreciating, understanding, and protecting these birds and ensuring their welfare into the future is significant to Michigan Audubon’s history and mission. Since its inception in 1904, the Michigan Audubon community has consistently supported and fought to protect Sandhill Cranes. We appreciate these birds and the importance of protecting them from short-sighted, misguided management. We are committed to continuing the Sandhill Crane’s success story and to supporting scientifically- and ecologically-sound best practices in wildlife management as it relates to wildlife conservation in our state.
Michigan Audubon encourages constituents to make their voices heard in support of best wildlife management practices and help us ensure the Sandhill Crane remains protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Michigan Audubon connects birds and people for the benefit of both through conservation, education, and research efforts in the state of Michigan.
I would like to urge you to oppose the designation of the Sandhill Crane as a game species in the state of Michigan. Based on the currently available science, hunting Sandhill Cranes would not serve as a sound wildlife management practice, will not protect agriculture crops, and could jeopardize the recovery of these iconic birds in our state. There is not adequate scientific data in support of Senate Resolution 30 or House Resolution 61.
This issue at large is not a legislative matter, but a wildlife management concern. In 2018, Michigan House Resolution 154 — worded similarly to SR30 and HR61 — failed to pass. This resolution (also introduced by Rep. James Lower) did not ultimately possess scientific credibility nor reflect ecologically-sound best practices in wildlife management as upheld by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. SR30 and HR61 are no different.
As a citizen invested in the conservation of our natural resources, I encourage legislators to make decisions based on sound scientific principles and in the best interest of the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes and of all current and future Michigan residents.
A hundred years ago, the Sandhill Crane population in Michigan hit an all-time low – they were hunted nearly to extinction and suffered greatly from loss of suitable wetland habitat throughout the state. While the bird’s eastern population has recovered, and they are now abundant throughout the Mississippi Flyway, we should celebrate this conservation success story rather than risk repeating past mistakes. While we recognize that Sandhill Cranes inflict minor crop damage, and an open hunting season is not a viable solution. Michigan has already established a successful management tool for agricultural stakeholders experiencing issues with this particular bird and this species is not overpopulated.
Cranes evoke a strong sense of appreciation and connection for many people in Michigan and around the world. Cranes and the habitats they use are valued and supported by wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts, farmers, families, scientists, landowners, private citizens, and conservationists.
Hunting is often cited as part of Michigan’s heritage as a way some of Michigan’s citizens connect with the natural world. I am writing to you as someone who appreciates and values wildlife and best practices in sound management of our natural resources. I am a wildlife enthusiast and I, too, represent and support Michigan’s heritage. I believe Sandhill Cranes should continue to be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, that they are not a suitable game species in our state, and insufficient wildlife management data on this front exists to support what could result in the reversal of the Sandhill Crane’s conservation story and success.
The Oppose the Hunt of Michigan's Sandhill Cranes petition to Michigan Audubon members and conservationists in Michigan was written by Heather Good and is in the category Animal Welfare at GoPetition.