The sandhill crane is one of Michigan's largest and oldest bird species. In the early 1900s, the Eastern sandhill crane was almost hunted into extinction. Due to federal protections, they are considered a non-game bird.

Michigan state senator, Ed McBroom, proposed that the state Natural Resource Commission add sandhill cranes to the state's game species list and that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approve a sandhill crane hunting season. This has caused some concern for individuals who want to maintain the bird's protection.

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The sandhill crane causes a nuisance for farmers because they eat the corn they plant in the spring. McBroom says the goal would be to allow those who hunt sandhill cranes from destroying their crops to be able to use the carcass for meat. The Detroit Free Press reports that,

Farmers utilizing a federal crop damage permit to kill sandhill cranes preying on their plants must spend hours in the field hunting the birds, on top of their other chores. And the inability to offer the resulting meat to anyone helping them impedes the ability to recruit assistance in the job.

In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued 98 permits to farmers in Michigan, allowing them to kill sandhill cranes who were damaging their crops. Permits were issued in Upper and Lower Peninsula counties.

The DNR's agency spokesman, Ed Golder, says hunting sandhill cranes isn't a priority for the DNR right now.

As a treaty-protected migratory bird, any future hunt decision would fall within the purview of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and involve the Mississippi Flyway Council, a 17-state group along the crane's migration route that helps set policy about the bird.

If any changes were to be made, the U.S. would have to involve other nations they have treaties regarding migratory cranes with.

SEE MORE: Animals That Are on Michigan's Endangered Species List

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