Natural Resources Chairman responds to sandhill crane hunting resolution

The Michigan Natural Resources Chairman says there 'seems to be some misinformation' as to the status of sandhill cranes in Michigan, following the passage of a resolution urging the commission to add the species to the game list.

Chairman John Matonich says more research and approval from other entities is needed before that would ever happen.

House resolution 154, sponsored by Representative Jim Lower (R-Cedar Lake) passed through the legislature in October. Lower says the growing sandhill crane population in Michigan is causing problems for farmers.

“The Sandhill crane population has increased in Michigan to the point where farmers are experiencing severe crop damage,” said Lower,. “Sandhill cranes appear in Michigan farm fields in spring and feed on corn sprouts and wheat plants. A hunting season would help control the population and limit damage to farms.”

However, Matonich says his commission must look at other options before moving forward.

"It would be beneficial for us to know more about the agricultural conflicts and all available strategies that can be implemented to effectively reduce those conflicts," says Matonich.

The decision to allow sandhill crane hunting would also require approval from other entities, according to Matonich.

"Since Michigan’s sandhill cranes are part of the Eastern Population of greater sandhill cranes, their management falls within the purview of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with recommendations from the Mississippi Flyway Council, a formal advisory council comprised of 17 states."

Before Michigan could open a hunting season, the DNR would have to tell the Mississippi Flyway Council, and the group would then make a quota recommendation to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service would then either accept or modify the recommendation to make sure it would not have a negative impact on crane populations.

Here is the full statement from Natural Resources Chairman John Matonich:

"I would like to make a quick comment regarding House Resolution 154.

There seems to be some misinformation as to the status of sandhill cranes in Michigan.

I want the public to know that this commission has not added sandhill cranes to the game species list.
Before this commission considers proceeding forward, it would be beneficial for us to know more about the agricultural conflicts and all available strategies that can be implemented to effectively reduce those conflicts.

Furthermore, please know that this decision does not rest solely with the NRC.

Since Michigan’s sandhill cranes are part of the Eastern Population of greater sandhill cranes, their management falls within the purview of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with recommendations from the Mississippi Flyway Council, a formal advisory council comprised of 17 states.

Before any hunting season could occur in Michigan, the DNR would have to indicate their intention to hold a hunt to the Mississippi Flyway Council. The Council then would discuss and make a quota recommendation to the Fish and Wildlife Service based on the harvest of cranes in other Mississippi Flyway Council states. The Fish and Wildlife Service would then either accept that recommendation or modify it to assure harvest does not negatively impact crane populations.

If this commission ever considers adding sandhill cranes to the game species list, and then subsequent to that, considers hunting, it will do so only after a thorough consideration of the science and a complete exploration of all effective alternatives that might be used singly or in combination to resolve concerns."

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