Sandhill Crane Hunting Discussion in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

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Wildlife managers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife are inviting the public to a roundtable discussion concerning a proposed greater sandhill crane fall hunting season. The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. in the CPW Steamboat Springs Service Center at 925 Weiss Drive.

The idea of a crane season was first raised by Yampa Valley waterfowl hunters and submitted to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission earlier this year. The proposal includes details about the how the species is to be managed and how local hunters could benefit from opening a hunting season. Also within the proposal is a mention of several complaints made to hunters by local landowners indicating that they have experienced crop damage when cranes trample wheat prior to harvest.

"Among the topics up for discussion include the various points made in the proposal, how the public can make comments, as well as the process that the commission will use to make a final determination," said Jim Haskins, Area Wildlife Manger.

If the proposal were approved by the commission, hunters in Routt and Moffat Counties would be allowed to harvest a portion of the quota established annually by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The sandhill crane is a migratory bird managed cooperatively by the state and the federal management agency.

The range of this population of cranes - known as the Rocky Mountain population - includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. Colorado is the only state that does not have a hunting season for this population and each year the allowable harvest is allocated among states based on approximate sandhill crane abundance and seasonal distribution. Colorado's allotment is currently re-allocated among the remaining states.

"One important point the public should know is that hunting quotas for these cranes is more highly regulated, monitored and analyzed than any other small game species found in Colorado, including sage- grouse," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Jeff Yost.

There is a current hunting season for Colorado's other crane population, the Mid-Continent population, typically found in the San Luis Valley during fall and spring migrations. The Mid-Continent population is hunted in eastern Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildife routinely invites the public to provide input and participate in managing the state's wildlife.

The proposal is slated for a hearing during the CPW commission's May 10 meeting in Grand Junction.

What: Public discussion about a proposed sandhill crane hunting season
When: Wednesday, April 25 - 7 p.m.
Where: CPW Steamboat Springs Service Center at 925 Weiss Drive
Contact: Steamboat Springs CPW office - 970-870-2197

For more information, please go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/Profiles/Birds/Pages/SandhillCrane.aspx