The Kentucky Coalition for Sandhill Cranes and the Kentucky Ornithological Society on Monday delivered a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear, asking that his administration withdraw plans for a sandhill crane hunting season.
The groups said that the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources "developed its hunt regulation in a biased and over-reaching manner rendering it fatally flawed."
The department "has functioned as a private hunt club and not as a public agency serving all citizens of the Commonwealth," Mary Yandell, co-founder of the sandhill crane coalition, said in a news release.
The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission on June 3 unanimously approved a Dec. 17 to Jan. 15 hunting season for cranes, making Kentucky the first state east of the Mississippi River to do so. The hunting season, during which up to 400 birds could be killed, must be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is expected to make a final ruling this month.
Sandhill cranes, which often have a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet, have not been hunted in Kentucky and most of the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard since the early 1900s. Popular crane viewing spots include Barren River Lake in Western Kentucky and Cecilia in Hardin County.
Thirteen western states allow hunting of sandhill cranes.