Michigan hunters could enjoy the “ribeye of the sky.”
Michigan Rep. James Lower has sponsored House Resolution 154. This bill was introduced Sept. 20 and the House adopted it Oct. 18. A resolution won’t carry the same weight as law, but will rather try to encourage Michigan’s Natural Resource Commission to list sandhill cranes as a game species. This will require approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before a hunting season could be established.
Sandhill cranes were once listed as an endangered species, but the population has since been a conservation success. The bird was almost extinct due to overhunting and habitat loss. Just last spring, 24,000 cranes were counted in Michigan, compared to only 27 pairs found in 1944. According to Mlive, some estimate the population having a growth rate of 10 percent over the last 10 years.
As of this time in Michigan, you can kill cranes for crop damage. However, the state doesn’t allow you to harvest the meat from the birds, which seems pretty wasteful.
The Michigan Songbird Protection Coalition, the same organization that’s mostly responsible for the ending of Michigan dove season, is against the idea. When they put an end to dove hunting, they stated that a hunt would make no difference in stopping crop damage.
Personally, I’d be excited for a crane hunt in an attempt to manage the population. People often forget a portion of every hunting license purchase goes into conservation efforts for game species.