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Anyone who had the chance to watch the Wisconsin Senate hearing on the Republicans proposed crane hunt should have noticed one simple fact, the citizens of Wisconsin are overwhelmingly against this hunt.
The Republicans with the support of Ted Nugent have laid out their reasoning for the hunt as to help protect farmers crops and to allow those that shoot the cranes to harvest the meat. Both of these reasons are suspect.
This bill is NOT to allow farmers to feed their families. If a hunting season is approved, it is very likely that there will be a lottery system for those who want to harvest a crane, since there will be relatively few permits available. Yes, cranes are edible, but hardly have the meat that can feed a family more than one meal. If a farmer is lucky enough to get a hunting season permit they would only be allowed to harvest one anyway. There is zero connection between available depredation permits and this bill to propose a hunting season.
Second, it will do nothing to save crops. Fall hunting of Sandhill Cranes will not solve the problem of crane damage to corn, which occurs in the spring when the cranes feed on the germinating corn seed after planting.
The International Crane Foundation played a key role in developing an effective chemical deterrent (Avipel) that offers a much more effective alternative for reducing crop damage than a limited crane hunt. With Avipel- treated crops, cranes remain on the farm but switch from germinating corn to other food items (such as insects). In this way, the crop depredation problem doesn’t move to other fields as occurs with hunting or other deterrents.
Hunting Sandhill cranes poses a real threat that breeding populations can be over-harvested once again pushing them near extinction. Following non-lethal means will allow future generations to enjoy this remarkable bird.
Brian Giles, Marshfield