LANSING (WJRT) (10/18/2017) - The Michigan House of Representatives approved a resolution Wednesday calling for the establishment of a hunting season for Sandhill cranes.
The measure, which was sponsored by State Rep. Jim Lower of Cedar Lake, is meant to address overpopulation of the large birds, he wrote in a press release.
It encourages the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to add Sandhill cranes to the game species list and ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow a hunting season for them in Michigan.
“I’m hopeful that the Natural Resources Commission will move forward with the idea and create a Sandhill crane hunt,” Lower said. “The establishment of a hunting season will help control the population and limit damage to local farms, where corn and wheat plants serve as a food source for the birds.”
His press release says Michigan is home to more than 23,000 Sandhill cranes, based on a 2015 population survey. Their population appears to be growing by nearly 10 percent every year for the past decade.
Michigan farmers already have the right to obtain nuisance permits to kill Sandhill cranes that cause crop damage, but Lower said those don't adequately address the overpopulation problem. In addition, meat from birds killed under a nuisance permit must be wasted.
Sixteen states currently allow Sandhill crane hunting during certain seasons.
“A number of states already hunt Sandhill cranes and their population continues to climb, along with reports of crop damage caused by cranes,” Lower said. “Still, hunting is the best tool we have to manage the population as a whole, and it’s time to utilize it in Michigan.”