Protect Sandhill Cranes in Michigan

Sandhill Crane Pair (Steve Byland)

On October 18, 2017, by way of a voice vote, the Michigan House of Representatives approved House Resolution 0154. This resolution encourages the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add Sandhill Cranes to the game species list and seek U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approval to establish annual recreational Sandhill crane hunting seasons in Michigan. The issue currently rests with the Michigan Natural Resources Commission for further consideration.

Since its inception in 1904, the Michigan Audubon community has consistently supported and fought for the protection of native bird species. In response to a resolution, HR 154, that has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives that urges the state’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to authorize an open season on Sandhill Cranes, Michigan Audubon opposes the proposed Sandhill Crane hunt in the state of Michigan.

A hundred years ago, the Sandhill Crane population in Michigan hit an all-time low – they were hunted nearly to extinction and suffered greatly from the loss of suitable wetland habitat throughout the state. While the bird’s eastern population has recovered, and they are now abundant throughout the Mississippi flyway, we should celebrate this conservation success story rather than risk repeating past mistakes. While we recognize that Sandhill Cranes inflict minor crop damage, an open hunting season is not a viable solution. Michigan has already established a successful management tool for agricultural stakeholders experiencing issues with this particular bird.

Sandhill Crane and Colt in water (Andrea Westmoreland)

Cranes evoke a strong sense of appreciation and connection for many people in Michigan and around the world. Cranes and the habitats they use are valued and supported by wildlife enthusiasts, farmers, families, and landowners. For over 20 years, Michigan Audubon has held an annual celebration of Sandhill Crane migration in October, called CraneFest. The sole purpose of this event is to offer the public a free, family-friendly opportunity to witness these birds fly in at dusk as they migrate through southwest Michigan. Appreciating, understanding, and protecting these birds and ensuring their welfare into the future is work significant to Michigan Audubon’s history and mission. We believe Sandhill Cranes should continue to be protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act as a non-game species.

What can you do to join us and support our work to ensure the Sandhill Crane population remains protected in Michigan?

We hope for another successful stop to the proposed hunting of this iconic species and will keep our community informed via our social media channels, website, eNews, and our member magazine, the Jack Pine Warbler. Thank you for caring about Michigan birds and for your contributions to conservation!