Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sandhill Crane Hunting in Tennessee? Tennesseans Say No!

It is breeding season for sandhill cranes like so many other species.  Soon after sandhill crane chicks hatch they leave the nest and follow their parents to learn about their environment and what to eat and how to find food.
All sandhill family photos courtesy of Christy Yuncker

Sandhill cranes have a family life that we humans relate to easily.  They mate for life, live long lives, stay together as a family unit for many months, including when they migrate, and have a complex system of communication that includes posturing, dancing and many vocals that establish who they are and their breeding and feeding territory, helping to maintain order with their neighbors.

The male sandhill crane below is initiating a dance.

He gets the attention of his chick and the chick responds with excitement.

And tries to imitate the dance.

And practices.

In a few months, this family will join other families in their migration journey to warmer climates where food is available during the winter months.  It is during this migration journey that we have the opportunity to see sandhill cranes in Tennessee--a unique population of sandhill cranes known as the Eastern Population of Greater Sandhill Cranes.  This population was once on the brink of extinction.  With the help of wetland conservation, the establishment of hunting regulations and the sandhill crane's ability to adapt to human presence and smaller territories, this population has made a spectacular come back.  That is why Tennessee and visitors have been celebrating sandhill cranes for 22 years at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Tennessee.
There is no other species of bird in Tennessee that creates this kind of spectacle, offers this type of visibility, has a compelling conservation story, and affords us a viewing opportunity that we use to both celebrate and educate the public about wildlife and wildlife conservation in Tennessee.
Once again, a proposed sandhill crane season is on the table in Tennessee. The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is currently receiving comments about this proposed season.  The initiative for this hunt comes from a small group of hunters.  In fact, less than a majority of hunters in the state approve of hunting sandhill cranes (42%) while 35% are opposed, according to a recent TWRA survey of Tennessee residents.  That same survey revealed that 62% of Tennessee residents were opposed to sandhill crane hunting and 62% of wildlife watchers were opposed to hunting sandhill cranes.

Listen to the message in the video below and click on the Take Action Now link that follows.  The link will take you to a website with the email addresses of all the commissioners and give you a list of talking points to help you write your letters.  We want our Commissioners to know that this is not just about the "impact" to the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes--whether the population can sustain a hunt--this is also about the impact on people who have celebrated and revered sandhill cranes in Tennessee for more than 22 years.

Help us stop this hunt with your letters and phone calls.


All of the sandhill crane family images in this post were taken by Christy Yuncker at Christy Yuncker Photo Journal   Visit her beautiful sandhill crane images and the story of the sandhill cranes that live on her property.

Results of Tennessee Resident and Hunter's Survey on Knowledge of and Opinions on Sandhill Cranes:  62% of residents are opposed to hunting sandhill cranes; only 42% of hunters support and 35% are opposed; 62% of wildlife watchers are opposed.

TN Ornithological Society's Position on Sandhill Crane Hunt

Report from University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Hunting could hurt genetic diversity.

Richard Simms Comments at

Wintering Sandhill Cranes:  three blog posts with close up photos and stories about sandhill cranes wintering at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge; first post is at the bottom

Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Other posts on this blog discussing key issues in Tennessee's Sandhill Crane hunt proposal in 2010.
Sandhill Crane Hunting in Tennessee--Multiple Factors say No!
Greater Sandhill Crane--An Intimate View of Family Life

The history of sandhill crane hunt initiatives in the east at the Kentucky Coalition for Sandhill Cranes website

Summary of the 2011 USFWS National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Activity
Tennessee's Survey Results      To find your state click here
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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.
Sendivogius (1750)

Your Uncapped Creativity...

Your Uncapped Creativity...
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." ----the great dancer, Martha Graham