Sandhill cranes make a comeback

May 1, 2006

Environmental successes can bring environmental problems and now once endangered sandhill cranes might again be hunted in Michigan.

In 1931, hunting and habitat depletion in Michigan cut the number of sandhill cranes to 17 nesting pairs. Today, an estimated 8,000 live in the state.

But bringing the huge-winged birds back from the brink of extinction has prompted some people to call for a resumption of crane hunting.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted a record 6,754 sandhill cranes during a 4-hour period last November at a sanctuary northeast of Battle Creek, the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette reported Monday.

The cranes are renowned for their pair-bonding dancing and some wildlife experts say the birds are known to be the best dancers of the animal world.

Now the sight of the dancing cranes has become commonplace in mid-Michigan and points north -- so commonplace that they've become a nuisance to farmers.

That has prompted an increasing number of farmers to call for a hunt, George Cullers, a district director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, told the Gazette. Cullers noted some western states allow crane hunting.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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