Wisconsin Condsiders Sandhill Season

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State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, an Oconomowoc Republican presented a bill on Tuesday that would enable the DNR to start a sandhill crane season. Kleefisch is an avid duck hunter, and has noticed that while out hunting for other waterfowl there are always sandhill cranes to be spotted. The possible bill did not receive much attention beforehand, it was put in "quietly."

The sandhill crane at one time, was never seen in Wisconsin. This past October, Wisconsin alone had a population of 25,000. Farmers have a problem with the cranes eating their corn, seeds, and fledgling plants. Last year over 50 permits were given to landowners to shoot problem cranes, a number that was much greater than the 16 in 2008.

Wisconsin's sandhill cranes are part of the United State's eastern population, with numbers as high as 70,000. They migrate from Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario, Canada.

Opponents of a sandhill season think farmers should use chemical repellent on their seeds, but farmers say this just drives the sandhills to a neighboring farm. Opponents also say that by creating a sandhill season it appears that the DNR is promising a solution to the farmers, but it might not have that much affect on the sandhill numbers.

DNR would have the power to limit the season, and the quota. Like Kentucky recently, that had over 300 permits issued, and 50 cranes harvested in the season.

Also ironically or not - Wisconsin is home to the International Crane Foundation, a world-renowned authority on cranes and their habitat, performing research and advising scientists. Thousands of schoolchildren visit the foundation every year. The ICF hasn't taken a stance on sandhill hunting, preferring to remain neutral so its data and statistics are seen as objective. Still, the foundation's ecology director, Jeb Barzen, said hunting won't solve crop damage problems.

The population of sandhillls has made a comeback, and there is a need for some type of management. The legislative period will end mid-March and it has been said that this bill is not a top priority. From GreenBayPressGazette.com.