No good reason to hunt sandhill cranes

April 8, 2011 

If they are allowed to go through with it, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will permit for the first time in over 100 years the hunting of sandhill cranes in Kentucky.

Hunters will be allowed to buy permits to shoot the birds as they migrate through the commonwealth in the winter months. What for?

These large beautiful birds have never been table fare items like ducks, geese and turkeys. There is no hard evidence our forefathers hunted them. But now because they are considered exotic and elusive they have become targets.

Their numbers have finally rebounded after nearly going the way of the carrier pigeon and the response of our agency of government that is supposed to protect wild animals is to start printing licenses to hunt them.

All of my life, I have enjoyed hunting and fishing. When I was a small boy there were lots of times if we hadn't had fish or wild game my father caught and hunted there would have only been beans and potatoes for supper. I was taught that fishing and hunting were to supply food. No fish or a single rabbit was ever caught or killed purely for sport or as a trophy.

I am a hunter and fisherman. For me, these activities are part of my heritage, crucial survival skills passed down to me long before I was ever allowed to walk alone a field with a loaded firearm. The culture of my family and my forebearers allowed for you to take only what you needed and to always use and respect what you took.

Killing a crane, an animal recognized the world over as a purveyor of peace, just doesn't make sense to me. These birds are some of the largest in North America; they have a wing span that ranges from five to eight feet and can fly as high as 10,000 feet.

Now because for the past several years a couple of western states have legalized the hunting of sandhill cranes a few people in Kentucky are lobbying to join them.

While the KDFWR says hunter success rates will be low, some evidence points in another direction.

First of all, the cranes stop over at two primary points in Kentucky, Barren River Reservoir and a four-mile square section of farmland near the town of Cecilia. The reservoir will be off limits to hunters, but the feeding grounds near Cecilia will be like shooting cranes in a barrel.

The plan now calls for offering for sale 400 permits for sandhill cranes next year as part of the state's Sandhill Crane Management Plan.

Baloney. The cranes that pass through our state are some other state's birds in the first place. They just pass through here. We aren't going to manage them. We're going to shoot them.

KDFWR ought to at least be accurate and call their plan the Sandhill Crane Shooting Plan because that, after all, is what it really is.

Killing these majestic and beautiful birds for sport is wrong. We nearly lost them once as a species and now as they have rebounded the first thing we think of is making them a target.

I have never seen a sandhill crane in the wild; I have only seen them in videos and in photographs. But just by looking at those images, I know in my heart they are too beautiful to kill. We have plenty of game animals now for those of us who hunt and fish. Why can't we just leave the cranes alone?

Some things just need to be enjoyed, appreciated and, yes, loved. Please contact our elected officials and. most importantly, the KDFWR and let them know that Kentuckians don't want a hunting season for cranes of any kind.

Loyd Ford is editor of The Lake News in Calvert City.

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