Letter: Sandhill Crane conservation

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To the editor:

Hunters have asked the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife to consider holding a limited hunt for Sandhill Cranes in Northwest Colorado.

Sandhill Cranes have been hunted in Colorado, east of I-25, since 1967, and it's the position of Parks and Wildlife biologists that a limited season as proposed will not negatively impact this population, which is already hunted in every other state in which it resides.

The total number of available permits is determined annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are distributed to the states where this population is hunted.

Colorado's share, less than 50 permits, will be distributed to the other states if this hunt is not approved.

This means that the approval of this petition will only result in a redistribution, not an increase, in the number of available permits.

As a conservationist and a hunter, I am in full support of a regulated Sandhill Crane season here in Northwest Colorado.

I encourage others who also support this hunt to sign our online petition at www.change.org/petitions/colorado-parks-and-wildlife-commission-open-a-hunting-season-for-greater-sandhill-cranes-in-northwest-colorado

Troy Phillips

Comments

Rebelgirl 2 years, 5 months ago

My question is, what benefit is there to killing this bird. Other than it allows man to kill another living creature? Dont tell me population control as that is the biggest load of bull dung you can try using as your defense. Nature controls its own (well except in the case of man). The only reason it becomes a concern to man is when the animals are in an area that we want to control. Man has destroyed and continues to destroy the natural habitat of many species. Why other than greed is this done? Why dose man feel its their job to control everything when they have no business doing so? I am sorry but wil not ever get my support in the killing of an animal that can not fight for itself.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

The sandhill crane is the oldest species of bird, estimated to be 4-9 million years old. It is endangered because of loss of habitat by humans. Right now, areas of the state are closed from May 1 to July 1 to protect its breeding. Let's not hunt it.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

By refusing a hunt in Colorado, we are sending a message to other states. Colorado has the largest remaining habitat for the sandhill crane. It is a jewel of Colorado and our conservation efforts are something we can be proud of. Other states would be well-served to not hunt this bird, too. It's meat and nutritional value are questionable, but its beauty and haunting call are reminders of ancient times, millions of years ago.

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cforevereyez 2 years, 5 months ago

Sportsmen paid for the wildlife refuges that were established to give these birds stopping places on their spring and fall migrations. Sportsmen paid for the studies of their populations and habitats and helped establish rules that protect their nesting areas in the spring, a critical piece of this bird's recovery.

Sportsmen provided the money that paid for DOW biologists and game wardens to protect this species.

I have no desire to hunt this bird, but I know people that do, and respect that. It is a challenging bird to hunt and excellent table fare.

Thanks to HUNTERS, this bird has made a tremendous comeback. Hunters paid for it, and they have an interest in hunting cranes. The haunting call of a sandhill crane is not a reminder of ancient times, millions of years ago. It is a reminder of the present, of the successful efforts that sportsmen made to bring this bird back for all to enjoy. Conservationists everywhere should applaud that.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks hunters, for letting this bird exist! The more you kill it, the better it can exist.

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cforevereyez 2 years, 5 months ago

What was your contribution to the come-back of this bird rwarner2012?

Have you ever bought a Federal or State waterfowl stamp? Have you ever bought a Colorado Habitat Stamp? Have you ever cointributed to Ducks Unlimited, an organization that develops habitat for all kinds of waterfowl species? Have you ever volunteered your time and effort at one of the many wildlife refuges that protects these birds? My guess is that you did none of those. I have and so have millions of other sportsmen who quietly support wildlife conservation in the US and Canada.

Sandhill cranes are NOT endangered. You are absolutely incorrect when you state that they are.

It is because of God that this bird exists. We manage migratory waterfowl populations so that they can co-exist with man. You don't seem to understand that simple concept.

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Troy_phillips 2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the contributing posts both for and against a limited Sandhill Crane hunt here in Northwest Colorado. An open discussion is the whole point and allows both sides to clarify their positions and correct misconceptions.

So, on that note of correcting misconceptions, let me echo the point that Sandhill Cranes are not endangered. Parks and Wildlife biologists wouldn't support the hunt if they were. Also, cranes have been hunted in Colorado for over 40 years, and the population continues to grow. We are just asking for NW Colorado to be allowed a limited number of the total federal allotment. This will not change the total number of Sandhill Cranes taken nationwide. Lastly, again echoing another post, hunters are conservationists. At the very least, we financially support conservation efforts through the purchase of habitat stamps along with federal and state duck stamps. Beyond that, many of us are members and financial supporters of conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited that are working both nationally and internationally to protect habitat to ensure a future of hunting not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

Just for the record, the sandhill crane is endangered in a number of states, such as: Florida, Washington, and Ohio. Colorado has the most remaining sandhill crane habitat, and it needs to be protected. That is why Colorado closes swathes of land (such as the California Park and Slater Park area) from motorized travel from May 1 to July 1...to protect their breeding habitat. Much of their habitat has been lost nationally. Let Colorado be a sanctuary for the beautiful and majestic sandhill crane. Also for the record, the contributions from hunters toward conservation are appreciated...but that argument is disingenous. Hunters by their very nature take more than they give. Many species are extinct globally, thanks to hunting but not limited to that. In general, it is development and agriculture that destroys habitat because land is usurped and land use is changed to accommodate people.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

Some, like the Mississippi sandhill crane, are critically endangered. It is necessary to keep population levels more than above the very minimum for several reasons. For one, genetic diversity is important. For another, various sorts of natural disasters can wipe out a seemingly-secure species.

Consider this scenario as just one example. The Colorado habitat is essential to the security of the sandhill crane population. Yet that habitat is more vulnerable than most care to admit. Much of Colorado forest now contains large contiguous stretches of beetle-kill pine. It is possible, that in a "superfire" that roars through large expanses of contiguous dead pine, that large portions of such habitat can disappear in days and take decades to return.

This of course is a big issue for a number of plant and animals species. There are a number of both that are only found in Colorado, and when their habitat is gone, they are gone. Extinct.

We want to, it is human nature, to make decisions that are in our best interest and that are convenient for our lives. But in the end, due to the interconnectivity of nature, we hurt ourselves. Picture a wooden "pyramid of life" with humans at the apex. When species go extinct, it is like holes being nibbled into the pyramid by termites. It destabilizes the structure.

Because of the loss of habitat through changes in land use (plus pollution, climate destabilization, etc.), tens of thousands of plant and animals species are estimated to be going extinct every year. More than 23% of all plant and animal species worldwide, are estimated to have gone extinct due to these factors.

Arguments against conservation of species always reflect the notion that the only thing that matters is what is convenient and expedient for human consumption, and/or that there is no problem except in the minds of would-be conservationists. This is a nearsighted and wearisome, even childish perspective.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

The big question, is how to turn the situation around, so that large swathes of land are being made available, or being returned to natural habitat, globally? As it is, habitat is usurped for human use, on a daily basis.

This is really the crux of the issue. If land is being opened up for wildlife habitat, then conservation efforts become less urgent. Certainly a case can be made for hunting when overpopulation threatens herds of deer for example, with slow agonizing deaths over winter.

But the case for hunting of species such as the sandhill crane, that is experiencing survival pressure...that is harder to support.

Mr. Phillips, I hear what you are saying, but it is a hard sale. Even prairie dog hunts take some thoughtful consideration because of the interconnectivity...nevermind pondering hunting specialized species such as the sandhill crane. What species depend on it? Everything changes when you put the "ecosystem windchime" in motion.

To win me over, your article would need to reference concrete and extremely substantial efforts to expand (not just maintain) sandhill crane habitat. You want hunting? Earn it. Bump UP their populations by 20% by bumping up habitat, especially for the most tenuous subspecies. Then claim your prize of a small 50-bird hunt in the state.

This is of course not convenient, and it costs more than it is worth. We want to consume more than we invest. But this is the reality of our situation. We need to start thinking in different ways, and get our satisfaction from a challenge such as the one offered here. Make it happen! Sign me up to help.

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cforevereyez 2 years, 5 months ago

The National Wildlife Federation lists three threats to the Sandhill Crane: 1. Habitat loss 2. Wetland loss 3. Development

Nowhere does it mention that hunting is a threat to these birds.

The International Crane Federation says, "Though Sandhill Crane populations in the northern boreal forest and arctic have likely been stable for a decade or more, Sandhill Crane populations in temperate regions of the U.S. and Canada have been expanding rapidly. This wildlife success story is possible because a recovering crane population has found available wetlands to nest in and agricultural lands that are suitable for foraging." You can thank Ducks Unlimited for the majority of that habitat development in southern Canada and the northern US, not rwarner2012. Did you notice the words, "wildlife success story"?

For the record, it was the Division of Wildlife that closed the Slater Creek and California Park areas to motorized travel, whose salaries are paid for by hunters. Did you contribute to that fund rwarner2012? Did you contribute to that wildlife success story?

Of course not. You can't even answer that question, can you?

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

Cforever, you are right that it is illogical to presume that killing a bird in any way is a threat to its survival. In terms of numbers, the primary factors are as you mention for pretty much any species these days.

You will note that they did not include disease or famine in the top three list either. Yet, for any given species, are you really saying that disease, famine, and human consumption ADD to their ability to survive?

What I see reflected (but unspoken) in comments such as this, are the belief that, "we want what we want when we want it. We want it!" Chances are, if history is any indicator, you'll get it too.

What I'm suggesting is to look at things in a different way, and be open to embracing a reality of limited resources and a global responsibility to fit into Nature, and accept sustainable consumption, rather than propagate a belief system that has cost us estimates of hundreds of thousands of plant and animals species already.

Be part of the solution. Sure, you can argue that Ducks Unlimited is part of the solution. ...But not really. These efforts make a difference, but a lukewarm one. Consider this analogy.

Companies and utilities associated with water, propane/natural gas, gasoline, and electricity also believe in conservation. Right? But on close examination...it turns out, not really.

Why? Because they are companies and they only make money by selling product. A water company may preach conservation, but the fact of the matter is that they need to sell product. If Thornton, Colorado, which uses an average of 17,000 gallons per month per residential household...got that average consumption down to 1,000 gallons per month...these companies would go out of business!

If they were REALLY interested in conservation, here is what these utilities would do. They would implement a multi-tier pricing structure, and they would be non-profit organizations. In other words, their existence would be subsidized by tax payers so that they did not need to turn a profit in order to provide the service.

Imagine a system where if Thornton in our example had a pricing structure so that water cost $0.10/100gal for consumption under 1000gal/month, cost $1.00/100 for up to 5000gal/month, and cost $2.00/100 for up to 20,000gal/month. Over 20,000gal/month incurred an additional misdemeanor fine. What do you suppose would happen to consumption? It would plummet.

Same is true here. If you want to talk about real and effective conservation, then you need to talk about recovering habitat. The rest is lip service that, sure it is something...it is better than nothing...but it is not enough to turn the tide.

Will the tide get turned? Probably not. I don't see us changing. But let's be honest and admit that, instead of foisting these disingenuous arguments on the public.

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Troy_phillips 2 years, 5 months ago

I think rwarner2012 and I are in agreement probably more than we'd like to admit. Especially on the last point of recovering habitat being the key to real and effective conservation. So when Ducks Unlimited has Conserved 12.6 MILLION acres with another 95.8 MILLION acres influenced through actions such as conservation easements, I consider it much, much more than "lukewarm lip service.". I also think that we have made our argument that most hunters easily give more than we take. The "wildlife success story" of the Sandhill Crane is one small example of that.

But all this is off the subject. If the argument is against crane hunting in general, then make the case to the US Fish and Game Department. They set the annual federal quota for all migratory waterfowl, including cranes. Our request is not for increased numbers of Sandhill Cranes to be hunted, but only to redistribute some of those hunting opportunities here to NW Colorado.

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DougS 2 years, 5 months ago

rwarner2012, I think you are confusing the Whooping Crane and the Sandhill. The Whooping Crane (Grus americana), the tallest North American bird, is an endangered crane species named for its whooping sound. I think because of the Whooping Crane nesting is why they close California Park until July. Not the Sandhill.

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cforevereyez 2 years, 5 months ago

Disease, famine and human consumption do contribute to a species survival. Nature selects only the fittest to carry on that species, as cruel as we may think that is. Disease, famine and human consumption cull the weakest first, enabling the best of that species to survive.

I read today in the Denver Post that the US Fish and Wildlife Service, supported mostly by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps, just proposed making a 5.2 million acre Conservation Area in the southern San Luis Valley/New Mexico border area. It would encompass 3 National Wildlife Refuges, which were paid for by hunters, and add 530,000 acres of private land conservation easements to the proposed area. This area is an important stop for the migrating Sandhill crane populations that visit Colorado. There's your 20% rwarner. You can purchase your Federal Duck Stamp at the local post office and help fund this effort.

Let the hunt begin.

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Rebelgirl 2 years, 5 months ago

So what happens when like all other species that are allowed to be hunted are poached. Which I know happens reguardless of species. Just becuase you allow people to hunt them does not mean they will do it legally, it just means that people will see that it is ok to kill them whether or not they have a tag. What do you suggest for those who illegally kill. The "punishments" that are in place now are far from where they should be. I agree that more needs to be done to conserve land. So turn down the oil companies, minning companies and rich ** that have nothing better to do than take up and sometimes destroy the land. Deny anyone that wants to build a house that is part of natural habitat such as forests. Why should we force ourselves into land that has long before belonged to another living creature. What happens when the land is no longer available to the birds? They will again start to decline in numbers. Yes there has been some done but the birds are not the only ones that are loosing out on their habitat. I also agree that hunting does bring in money to the state and that the tags provide money for the habitat. What I cannot stand is when people have no respect for the habitat or animal. By killing the strong memebers of the species you set them up for failing in the future to thrive. True you may not want the sick or weak but if that is all that is left then what does the future hold for these animals. I do not believe in hunting for sport. I know many people that hunt for food and that is all they hunt for. How much food can you get from one sandhill crane? One meal, maybe two? I am sorry but I will not change my mind on this issue and there is nothing you will be able to say to make me see differently. I also agree with 3canines. The Wildlife management has much to be desired.

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Nadja Rider 2 years, 5 months ago

I agree that hunters and fisherman have contributed greatly (if not solely) to the preservation and enhancement of many species, and not just huntable species. Licenses do fund that to a great extent, however most folks are not aware that the Pittman-Robertson 11% federal excise tax (enacted in 1937 by FDR) on all firearms and ammo goes directly to states for wildlife restoration and preservation. In the 1970's the tax was added to handguns and archery equipment as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittman-... Bottom line is that without hunters you would never even have seen a restoration effort on the sandhill cranes or whooping cranes for that matter.

So all you non-hunters can spew all you want to about hunting, but we are the ones that are putting our money where our mouths are. Do you see PETA or other orgs putting up funds like hunters are? As of January 2010 the Pittman-Robertson act has generated over 2 billion dollars, and don't forget, that's in addition to the the license revenues. How much have you contributed to save a species?

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cag81625 2 years, 5 months ago

Rg, you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. The facts are that Sandhill cranes are a game species, they do provide meat, and they exist in sufficient numbers for hunters to take a limited amount of them on a sustainable basis. If any of the above three facts were not true, I'd see your point, but that is not the case.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

As with the utilities that preach conservation, but would go out of business were policies put in place to reward conservation...so is the claim that wildlife benefits from hunters.

The net gain is less than the net take.

Over here in Fort Collins (suspect it is true nationally, but maybe not) the Amerigas company actually will bump up your rate 50% if you do not buy a certain amount of propane per year. This is not related to trying to get a small delivery. You can have a full truck delivery, and still be asked to pay $3/gal rather than $2/gal, because one delivery a year is not enough for them.

Same with conservation efforts in the name of hunting. With the utilities, the goal is actual consumption not conservation. With hunting, the goal is actually consumption, not conservation. Or to put it another way, only as much conservation as we can afford, not necessarily as much conservation as the situation requires.

In other words, the efforts are good PR and church up the fact that we want to kill and eat X. As long as affordable consumption is driving the policy, there will always be an intrinsic conflict of interest. I hear Dodo bird is especially delicious!

Sandhill cranes are indeed endangered in a number of states as has been mentioned in previous posts. If there is success in their situation in Colorado, that is to be applauded, not eroded. The points have been made in previous posts and will not be repeated here.

Rebelgirl, I agree with your sentiment. Were we freeing up a few million acres of land each year for wildlife to reclaim, we could see survival pressure reduce and some species could begin to rebound. As humans move toward a carrying capacity that allows for all other species to exist, this issue will diminish in importance.

Truth be told, people do not want to hear this. Freeing up land for wildlife takes away land for humans! That would mean crowding, or heaven forbid, that we would have to reign in our own personal fertility. We would have to settle for growing an economy with a downward trending population, which is nowhere as luxurious as an economy based on unbridled exploitation. (But it can be done! If anyone cares...happy to elaborate...know it is not part of this thread.)

We humans have a place in the ecosystem, don't get me wrong. Hunting is far superior to domesticating animals for slaughter, in my opinion. Rather favor the idea of meat-eaters being responsible for their own kills.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

The issue for me personally is not of hunting for food, but three other things. One, is hunting for pleasure which most hunters deny but is actually the driving force for most of the hunting I see. People do not fly to Colorado from Michigan to hunt a deer because they are hungry. People do not hunt sandhill cranes because they are hungry, nor do they go through all this gamesmanship to get 50 licenses for Colorado because they are hungry. They enjoy the hunt and the kill. Don't insult everyone's intelligence by claiming otherwise.

Secondly, we tend to want to hunt the strongest and best, and so weaken a species. The natural way is more generally to hunt the weak and the injured, and so strengthen the species. If you want to do the most good, you should hunt with technical limitations that make it unlikely you will take the strongest and best of X.

The other thing, the biggest thing, is that globally we are causing the extinction of an estimated tens of thousands of plant and animal species per year (based on land area usurped for human use). There are dozens of endangered species in Colorado.

People do not want to see the significance to the damage that we are doing, and these lukewarm hunting-based conservation efforts are a disingenuous subterfuge. It's exactly like the utlity companies and their conservation PSAs, while they do every manuever possible to increase profits.

No sale here either, Rebelgirl

Again, the challenge is to be able to give more than you take. As long as species are going extinct, the "hunting-conservation" is not enough. As long as species are going extinct, extra hunting pressure by humans (as opposed to all the natural survival pressures that species already face) does not help. Species are already overstressed.

Were there an absence of predators, that argument would be true. For example, when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone, everything benefitted: plants, insects, [wolves], ungulates. But when you have wolves in a stable system, and then ADD A BUNCH MORE PACKS or ADD A SUPER-PREDATOR LIKE HUMANS, that generally does not help...it hurts.

As mentioned previously, the timing of this campaign is especially bad. Do not know how much of the sandhill crane population in Colorado is amongst the vast areas of beetle kill, but suspect a good chunk of it is.

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rwarner2012 2 years, 5 months ago

Rather than investing effort in getting permission to kill these birds, why not do what was suggested before and first invest effort to grow their population 20%? Or why not work to get fire-control lines in place to protect habitat so that in case of a fire, the SCOPE of the fire is limited?
(We learned from Yellowstone to let fires start naturally...what we did not learn is to consider limiting scope when we have millions of acres of beetle kill.) You know, get lines in place so that some number...50 square miles?...can burn, and then the fire control lines are reached and the fire dies out.

How about daring to choose to not have a(nother) child? Make some of the painful choices, rather than the PR church-it-up Duck's Unlimited money from hunting arguments.

These kinds of challenges are a lot of work, and take years to accomplish, with no guarantee of success. Let your guide be when there are no endangered species in a given region, when a given species genetic diversity and vitality is good, and when contingencies are in place to deal with natural disasters, disease, famine, etc. Get the species back from the "red line" so that there is not just the bare-minimum buffer, but a robust buffer of survivability.

"We just wanna hunt, dammit! :-)"

Make conservation the PRIORITY and consumption the secondary objective, rather than having affordable consumption (where the return on investment is positive, where benefits outweigh the costs) as the priority. Be conservationists who work toward conditions where species are not stressed with survival pressures.

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cforevereyez 2 years, 5 months ago

I don't think even rwarner believes the crap he posts, he just posts it. The next time you see a fire rwarner, throw yourself on it. Save a crane. Help our human gene pool out in the process. Let your words be your guide.

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Rebelgirl 2 years, 5 months ago

So yes lets just let everyone hunt and kill what they want when they want. Why bother having tags? I completely agree with cforevereyez, do us a favor if you hold yourself above everything else in the world and take your egotistical ignorant genes out of the pool. There is no sport is hunting, majority of out of state hunters are nothing more than boys with guns. Oh yeah for you! You killed something what do you want a reward? Not gonna happen. We do nothing more than kill because we think we are superior. We do not hunt to live, we hunt to kill because we can. You use the meat and display the head of the carcass on your wall to show how big and bad you are. You don't use the hide, nor the organs, nor the bones. Again yeah for you! You wont impress me for killing something for no other reason than you can. And what land are we adding to the ecosystem. The last time I checked we continue to lose it. We are not taking away land from humans we are giving it to them. Without hunters nature will take care of it self. There is no reason humans need to step in. The lotto donates much of their money, parks and rec, and volunteers are what ensures the survival of the wilderness, not hunters. Hunters do just as much to destroy the land as their money goes into saving it. The trash they leave behind, The roads and land they tear up to get to their kill. Yep but we need them. Get a life humans dont need meat to live, we choose to eat it because it is the easy choice. We don't need to kiil another living thing to sustaine us, but we can because how dare we let another living creature go on living their life due to our superior life needs. Humans=destruction. Humans=death. Humans=stupidity as a whole. But you know what dont listen to those of us who are actually trying to save the beauty, the plants and animals. Leave your spawn with nothing but stories and pictures. Congrats

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Nadja Rider 2 years, 5 months ago

Boy, some of you folks like Rebelgirl and rwarner2012 need to get your facts straight before you start posting online - what a bunch of crap you two have spewed. Like ranger520 posted, you haven't a clue as to how hunting, fishing and conservation work. I suggest you both do some research, then come back and post.

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Rebelgirl 2 years, 5 months ago

Ranger I have yet to read one intelligent post you have made. From what I have heard you dont offer much intelligence at your place of work either. As for you nadja your words are empty and fall upon deaf ears. I know how the system works, I dont like the way the system is and its my right to voice against it. When greed and ignorance stop rulling this country and its people and destroying the land maybe I will listen to you. If you are so well informed rather than make one stupid comment telling me my words are crap how about offering proof that we are wrong. You are an hunter I take it? Whatever you too can shoot an animal, good for you. Humans have no right to administer population control on anything but themselves and we are doing a pretty bad job of it. But who cares as long as you are happy and killers can continue to bring blood money into the state and county to futher the "conservation".

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native_craig_guy 2 years, 5 months ago

We should be able to hunt the birds. People fail to use logic when they rely on emotional attachments to "warm fuzzy feelings" they get when they think about animals. The fact of the matter is that we, humans, are responsible for the growth of the animal populations. When our ranchers (my ancestors) settled the west we irrigated, created stock ponds, reservoirs and lakes to increase the availability of water. In doing so we made an abundance of the one resource limiting the animal population, water. Once we made water readily available year round with nice irrigated feed plots the animal populations were allowed to flourish. We need to manage their population and hunting is a very effective means of accomplishing this. Simply avoiding the discussion of herd management by ignoring facts and decades of research shows blatant ignorance. We need to maintain healthy herds in healthy numbers.... Hunters are the best way to do that. Plain and Simple.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 5 months ago

I fail to see any moral distinction between hunting and raising animals in confinement (beef, pork, poultry, seafood) for slaughter.

If only we wicked humans could find refuge in the tender embrace of Mother Earth and learn from her gentle tutelage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JVkaM... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCDPYg...

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 5 months ago

Hmm. There was briefly a post from ranger blasting me for my "blinders." Now it's gone. Curious.

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