Jacob’s Jazz: Protect Sandhill Crane
There is a proposal to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add the Eastern Sandhill Crane to the game species list. This would allow limited hunting of the bird in Michigan.
The Eastern Sandhill Crane is a distinctive large grey-brown bird with a red patch above the eye. It is known for large migratory flocks, which can often be seen in farm fields. Michigan is home to a resident population and sees large numbers stopping here briefly during migration.
The crane population had been seriously depleted in the 20th century, and has only recently returned to stable numbers.
The cranes are currently allowed to be killed only when directly harming crops.
While some groups, like the Michigan United Conservation Club, want the hunting ban to be removed, many other conservation groups, including the Michigan Audubon Society, are opposed to the move.
The Michigan Audubon believes the population of the species is still too small to be safe to hunt. Members say there is dangerously low genetic diversity among the population in Michigan and hunting could make that problem worse.
The Audubon Society also points out that suitable habitat for cranes is still rapidly diminishing, due to human expansion.
Another group opposed is the Michigan Anishinaabek Caucus, which represents the group of culturally related indigenous people in the Great Lakes region known as the Anishinaabe.
A Sandhill Crane is shown in Lansing. Photo by Jacob Zokvic
The group points out the Sandhill Crane is neither a traditional food source nor a threat to ecosystems. The crane has long been important to the Anishinaabek people as a symbol in their system of kinship.
I am personally opposed to allowing these birds to be hunted. I volunteer at a Michigan Audubon bird sanctuary. I know from experience just how much work it is to maintain suitable habitat for these birds to successfully breed and raise young before migration.