Whooping Cranes w/Sandhill cranes in KY

Curious Published:

Information is widely available in media regarding the Humane Society of the United States request that KY stop the hunting season on Sandhill cranes immediately because endangered Whooping cranes are on the ground and traveling with the Sandhills.

The following article from the 12/28/12 Lexington Herald-Leader -

http://www.kentucky.com/2012/12/28/2457454/whooping-cranes-land-in-sandhill.html

WHOOPING CRANES LAND IN SANDHILL HUNTING SEASON

Published: December 28, 2012

By Roger Alford — Associated Press

FRANKFORT — Kentucky wildlife officials report they've spotted an endangered whooping crane at the Sloughs Wildlife Management Area near Henderson and that they've received a report of two others along the Pond River in Hopkins County.

The sightings of the rare birds, which are on the comeback from near extinction, prompted the Humane Society of the United States to again call for the halt of a hunting season on sandhill cranes for fear that shooters might mistakenly kill the whooping cranes instead.

Kentucky's second sandhill crane season, already under way, runs through Jan. 13 or until 400 of the birds are killed.

"Since whooping cranes bear a strong resemblance to sandhill cranes, continuing the hunt could put this seriously threatened species in extreme danger," said Pamela Rogers, the Humane Society's Kentucky director.

The whooping cranes, believed to be among a group released in other states in an effort to establish a flock in the eastern United States, are white with black wingtips and a red crown. They have wingspans of 71/2 feet and stand up to 5 feet tall on stilted legs.

Wildlife officials acknowledge that whooping cranes "are similar in silhouette" to sandhill cranes. However, they said sandhill cranes have gray bodies and are slightly smaller than whooping cranes.

The state wildlife agency circulated a news release last week alerting hunters that they should be careful not to confuse the whooping cranes with sandhill cranes or snow geese, which can be hunted in Kentucky.

Fewer than 600 whooping cranes now live in the wild in the United States.

"We are not surprised to learn that some whooping cranes have been sighted at this time in Kentucky," Rogers said. "In our comments to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in opposition to the sandhill crane hunt, we noted that some whooping cranes flock with sand-hill cranes during migration stopovers."

Last year, hunters killed 50 sandhill cranes in Kentucky. The season marked the first sandhill crane hunting season in a state east of the Mississippi in a century.

Wildlife officials have said that "hunters pursuing migratory game birds are exceptionally skilled at identifying different species and have proven in other states with sandhill crane seasons that they are not likely to make an identification mistake."

Rogers isn't convinced.

"Over the past year, multiple whooping cranes have been illegally shot and the threat of poaching, accidental or otherwise, remains all too real," she said. "For the long-term survival of both species, we again urge Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to cancel this hunt."

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  • I am not sure what pressure can be brought upon KDFWR at this date, since the only decisionmakers now are Commissioner Jon Gassett and his Board. They are the same ones who conducted the farcical public hearing process, and lied on the record when they said that the reason for the hunt was because of all of the requests that they had received from the hunting community. It was discovered through a Freedom of Information request of the official files that only one request from a doctor in Louisville had been received by KDFWR prior to the hearings. We now know that there (was) is very little interest by the hunting community in this hunt, validating the animal watcher's concerns about this issue that were expressed during the hearings and subsequent comment period. But those are the facts, and this hunt was not based on facts, it was based on...er ah, based on...hmmm, I guess nobody but Gassett knows exactly why he ginned up all of the support for this hunt, and he isn't talking. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. It may have had something to do with Gassett's privately owned side businesses that could provide for a fee the services like guided hunting expeditions or leasing/purchasing prime hunting lands (using his agency's scouting reports), which is what his web sites advertised. This obvious conflict of interest was brought up during the hearings/comments period, but Gassett just "rope-a-doped" on the issue, letting the detractors wail away at him until they tired themselves out...just like Ali did in the ring, right before he knocked out his opponents. It appears that this strategy worked, as the decision now is Gassett's and his alone. Unfortunately, he has shown nothing but disdain for any and all who criticize this dreadful decision. I do not see that changing in the near future, because these KDFWR appointments are like judges, they are in there for life...and he is a relatively young man. And he may still hope that interest may catch on and he will still profit from providing those personal services. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. I would say that the "experimental" status of this hunt was to provide cover for those decisionmakers who were being bombarded by negative comments...after all, they just said that if too many birds were killed and it was hurting the species, that they would re-evaluate the terms of the hunt. Right now, it would be hard for those with an environmental conscience to contend that too many birds had been killed, even though, we ALL known that even one of these beautiful birds being blasted from the air is TOO MANY!!! But red necks don't have a conscience, they have testicles.