published Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Decision on hunt expected Friday

  • photo
    Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press A pair of sandhill cranes soars above the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge.

As thousands admire the sandhill cranes in the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge during the annual viewing festival, the decision gets nearer on whether to allow hunting of the 4-foot-tall birds.

Thursday is the deadline to submit comments on a proposed sandhill crane hunting season before the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission votes on Friday, said Dan Hicks, TWRA spokesman.

If approved, it would be the first time that sandhill crane hunting would be allowed in Tennessee. Eleven states and three Canadian provinces have sandhill seasons, according to the state agency.

The plan has been approved by the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway Council, which oversees the migratory waterfowl's flyway. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has allowed 6,000 hunting permits to be available in the Tennessee flyway.

It all boils down to Friday's vote, Hicks said.

Out of the 6,000 permits allowed, Tennessee proposes to issue up to 733 permits -- each worth three cranes, or nearly 2,200 total -- through a drawing, Hicks said. Kentucky asked for 800 permits, he added.

If approved, the hunting season will start in late December and run through January, or during the late duck season, Hicks said.

So far, the agency has received more than 320 letters and e-mails about the proposal, said Mary Allen with the Wildlife Division of the TWRA. More opposed hunting sandhills than support it, she said.

TWRA said there are plenty of birds in the Eastern population of sandhill cranes.


* By mail to: Sandhill Crane Comments, TWRA, Wildlife Management Division, P.O. 40747, Nashville, TN 37204

* E-mail: Please include "Sandhill Crane Comments" on the subject line of e-mailed submissions.




* TWRA committee meetings will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Ray Bell Building in the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville. The commission meeting will start at 9 a.m. Friday. The public is invited.

"In 1969, we recorded about 20 of those sandhill cranes at the Hiwassee refuge. Last year in February, we counted 48,000 sandhill cranes," Hicks said.

Hunting opponents worry about the accidental shooting of a whooping crane -- an endangered species -- especially after three whooping cranes were shot dead last month in South Georgia.

"[It's] a huge tragedy, and it shows why I'm against the hunting of sandhill cranes in Tennessee," said Doug Geren, a Cleveland, Tenn., resident and longtime birdwatcher.

But Hicks said waterfowl hunters should be able to tell the difference between the white whooping crane and the gray sandhill crane.

"I know how hard it is to identify waterfowl when it's flying," he said. "[But when] a whooping crane is compared to a sandhill crane, it's like looking at a Ping-Pong ball in a coal bucket."

The TWRA website says the harvest strategy includes steps to minimize danger to whooping cranes, such as identification information.

Opponents also charge that TWRA wants to make money off hunting permits, but Hicks said 80 percent to 90 percent of waterfowl hunters already have annual or even lifetime sportsman licenses.

He said if hunting is approved, the refuge will be off-limits and hunters will need permission from private landowners to go after the birds.

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Should hunting of sandhill cranes be permitted?
about Perla Trevizo...

Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...

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XMarine said...

What great sport this would be.They are huge & slow.....can't miss them.Then stuff them & you have the perfect lawn ornament.

January 16, 2011 at 8:03 a.m.

I didnt realize sandhills were edible.I've eaten possum, gators, snakes, turtles, but never a crane. My brother killed one over fifty years ago, my dad made him eat every bit of it. It was not good and my brother never hunted again. When you kill for pleasure your mental stability is questionable. Also, I play on this river a lot. What happens to those bullets shot in the air that misses their target? I got my first rifle at the age of twelve and I've never shot anything I didnt eat. I've also never hunted where I put neighbors at risk of my bullets. Most of all, I've never hunted for was out of necessity.

January 16, 2011 at 10:37 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Why in the world would someone hunt this bird? They are big, dumb, not a nuisance and aren't edible. They make lousy trophies. Come to my neighborhood and thin out the deer instead.

January 16, 2011 at 10:51 a.m.
MsHartline said...

The need to add another species to the list of (legally) "killable things" is quite puzzling. Can anyone explain it? Any of the "real hunters" or a "licensed sport killer"?

The list of "legally killable stuff" is huge. If the attraction of hunting is killing something new, wouldn't you remain busy enough just killing one of each?

January 16, 2011 at 12:15 p.m.
cannonball said...

Don't make it legal to kill these poor birds. They have such a hard time to survive as it is.

January 16, 2011 at 5:51 p.m.
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