The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) is currently considering instituting a hunting season for the now prosperous Sandhill Crane population which migrate through the state. Sandhill cranes are classified as a game species by Congress under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Over the last three decades their population has grown over 300% to the point where hunters in 13 states currently enjoy being able to participate in the hunting and proper management of this abundant species. The goal of the KDFWR proposal is to allow the greatest possible participation for hunters, while being certain the Sandhill Crane population is properly maintained for future generations.
After years of study on the issue, the KDFWR has proposed a thirty day hunting season with a two bird per day bag limit and an overall harvest not to exceed 400. These limits are based on the population size over the last five years. This season would begin in mid-December from sunrise to sunset during the start of the migratory season. Interested hunters would be required to obtain a permit and complete a survey at the end of the season for KDFWR analysis. The number of permits issued and surveys would then be used to monitor the population size and make sure the harvest level does not exceed the predetermined level.
Anti-hunting forces are coming out in droves against this proposal, but the facts speak for themselves. This management plan took more than ten years of careful work to develop and takes a conservative approach toward the harvest of this species. Above all else, it ensures that hunting will not have a negative effect on the population. The establishment of migratory bird hunting seasons over the years has not only been successful in helping monitor and assess the populations of these types of birds, it has been a major factor in helping these populations recover to healthy levels. Hunters have proven to be true conservationists over the years and their involvement in the management of the Sandhill Crane population would only aid these historic birds in continuing prosperity all along the eastern United States. The addition of hunters is necessary to help this population grow, with the help of their post-season surveys and a tightly controlled harvest limit, anti-hunters have nothing to substantiate their claims and have done nothing to contribute to the growth of this species.
The KDFWR is currently accepting public comment on this matter, leading up to and during their meeting on May 6. Please contact the KDFWR at FW_Suggestions@ky.gov and let them know that establishing this once proud tradition in Kentucky would not only contribute to Kentucky’s proud hunting heritage, but is in best interest in the continuing growth of the Sandhill Crane population.
For KDFWR’s official proposal, frequently asked questions and articles on the issue, please click here.