Joe Writes . . .
The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a resolution asking the Natural Resources Commission to classify sandhill cranes as a gamebird. Once classified as a gamebird, the NRC could seek permission from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a hunting season on the birds.
There is no evidence that the population of sandhill cranes exceeds a naturally-sustainable level, hence no need to manage the population by hunting. Furthermore, there is already a remedy in place allowing farmers to kill those sandhill cranes which damage crops, although I cannot find any indication that such crop damage is substantial. To further accentuate the absurdity of this action by the House of Representatives, the sponsor of the resolution described sandhill cranes the “the ribeye of the skies” before admitting he has never actually eaten the bird. Right.
Why, then, did the House of Representatives ask the NRC to take the first step towards establishing a hunting season for sandhill sranes? Apparently because some hunters – and some organizations including the the Michigan United Conservation Clubs – would consider the establishment of a hunting season on cranes to be a positive development in that it would result in increased opportunities to hunt. That sentiment, however, needs to be balanced against the wishes of Michigan residents who, like me, strongly oppose legalized hunting of sandhill cranes.
Fully aware that some will be tempted to immediately label me a liberal, tree-huggin’, gun-grabbin’, anti-huntin’ activist for expressing this opinion, I am compelled to point out that my bona fides as an outdoor enthusiast stack up fairly well. I’m not Mort Neff, but I do alright (readers of a certain age will understand that reference).
The time my brother and I spend exploring the Grand River puts us in touch with nature, and in Michigan’s out-of-doors, on a regular basis. I have held a hunting license at various times in the past, and although I’ve never killed a deer I have tried to do so. I think Ted Nugent’s a fool based on what comes out of his mouth, but I’m OK with him legally whacking and stacking whitetail deer. The best stew I ever cooked was made with Michigan venison loin given to me by a farmer/friend who killed the deer in his back 40 acres. I’ve hunted and eaten rabbits and ring-necked pheasants, back in the days when ring-necked pheasant could be found in south-east Michigan.
I currently have a Michigan fishing license and I’ve eaten trout – trout I caught myself – fresh from a Colorado mountain stream. I’ve even become violently ill after killing and eating a prairie dog . . . shot it with a .22 and cooked it over an open fire on a stick as part of a survival hike back in the 1970’s. (That particular memory had been successfully suppressed until just now and I confess to feeling a bit queasy. It was the worst thing I ever ate, and I wonder if sandhill crane tastes any better. ‘Ribeye of the Sky’ my sweet bupee.)
The last time Michigan’s citizens were given an opportunity to decide they clearly conveyed that not every creature which can conceivably be shot needs to be hunted in our state. Voters soundly rejected legalizing the hunting of mourning doves in 2006, and I suspect the hunting lobby knows that voters would treat the prospect of hunting sandhill cranes with the same disdain.
Yes, I understand that some states allow the hunting of sandhill cranes. That’s wonderful: anyone with the urge to hunt cranes can do so without having to travel too far. This is Michigan, and in Michigan some birds are for hunting and others are not. Leave the sandhill cranes alone.
Michigan Natural Resources Commission (operating under the Michigan Department of Natural Resources), phone no. 517-284-6237, NRC@Michigan.gov . . . let them know how you feel on this issue!
Michigan Songbird Protection Coalition, http://www.songbirdprotection.com/ , phone no. 517-321-3683, firstname.lastname@example.org . . . information on sandhill cranes and other Michigan birds.
Joe Neely, email@example.com
Tom Neely, firstname.lastname@example.org