I am happy and relieved to report that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission voted today to defer the hunting of sandhill cranes for two years in the state of Tennessee because they wish to see more data on the eastern population's growth and stability. This is a victory for sandhill cranes and for all of us. It is a decision that puts the species first, and that gives everyone a chance to revisit the important issues--the science behind the Management Plan and the inclusion of all parties in decision-making. For this I am very grateful.
Following the presentations, the Wildlife Management Committee held a vote which determined their recommendation to the full Commission. The committee's decision was not made easily. Commissioners varied in their thinking about the issue, however, they came to a consensus and made a decision--we need more data. Following their vote, the committee gave the conservation community a mandate regarding opposing views on the issue of hunting sandhill cranes--"talk to each other, come to a meeting of the minds. We will be at this decision point again in two years and the decision may go the other way."
Of these two issues--science and consensus--science is the issue that needs our immediate attention at this juncture. Kentucky and other states have expressed intent to follow Tennessee in requesting sandhill crane hunting seasons for the eastern population. The question remains, does the Management Plan for the Eastern Population have the science to support the hunting objective that is currently included in the Plan? Many of us would like to see that science revisited; there are many deficiencies in available knowledge about the Eastern Population that are identified within the Plan, itself. Additionally, some kind of equitable representation of opposing views on that level seems warranted, since any state that hunts the Eastern Population impacts the entire population.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.