TN considers increasing number of Sandhill Crane permits – WHY?

FACT – only 98 hunters out of the 400 permitted ones (at least so far this 2016-2017 season) hunted Sandhill Cranes…so WHY is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) suggesting the permit number go up to 773?? It just seems like a slap in the face of those of us who have opposed this hunt since it’s inception. I can understand the reasoning for going “statewide”…since I’m told FWS doesn’t like to authorize hunts on a county to county basis…but expanding the hunt to the upper limits seems a bit “showy” and as I said frankly an “in your face” type move on the Agency’s part. We know the hunt is going not going away…but compromise is always best when dealing with polar opinions and with wildlife watching on the rise and hunting on the decline I would have hoped that the Agency would take that into account and consider working with the non-consumptive communities as “we” seem to be the future. 

The TN Wildlife Commission is voting on these changes on Feb. 17th and will probably pass with little or no opposition from TWRA or the Commissioners themselves. Most especially because the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) has pushed, lobbied and given money for this for years. I’ve said it before and it bares repeating…I am NOT against hunting. It has it’s place in conservation and management as well as for recreation. What I’m not for is blatant disregard by the Wildlife Commission for those who don’t believe as they do and if the present recommendation is accepted as it is that is exactly what is happening.

PLEASE call or email your TN Commissioner and let them know how you feel about Sandhill Crane hunting in TN. Over 3000 people from 18 different States, Canada and England attended the Crane Festival at Hiwassee vs the 98+ who hunted Sandhills…just something to consider.

Cynthia Routledge
Tennessee Ornithological Society, Secretary
Nashville Chapter of TOS, President

Why Tennessee and Kentucky differ in method of reporting quota “harvest”

The following is a response to a question received by TWRA Wildlife Chief Daryl Ratajczak concerning the tracking method of numbers of Sandhills killed during Tennessee’s first season quota hunt.

“…The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put a cap on how many birds each state could harvest. Kentucky was allowed to take 400 [a decrease of the initial limit set by USFWS] cranes while Tennessee was granted a potential harvest of 2,325 cranes. This is where the two states diverge drastically. Kentucky issued permits (two birds per hunter) to 332 [2013-14 season] hunters so technically, those hunters could have killed 664 birds. Since this is more than what the USFWS would allow, Kentucky hunters had to electronically report their harvest daily so they would not exceed the 400 bird mark. Therefore, they used a phone-in check system.

Tennessee on the other hand ran a much different system. First and foremost, the TFWC decreased the number of potential Sandhill take from 2,325 to 1,200. We also allowed each hunter to harvest three birds, this resulted in 400 crane permits.  This is the key here…Tennessee only issued 400 permits so even if every hunter killed three birds each, we still would not go over our limit of 1,200 birds. Due to this, we used a mail-in reporting system since it is very accurate and extremely efficient. The one thing it is not, is timely. But since we could not exceed our quota, it was not necessary to have immediate numbers. We simply need to report our harvest to the USFWS at the next Flyway Council meeting and we will have a very accurate count of our harvest when that meeting takes place (March). Reminder cards have recently been sent to permit holders to turn in the information, and as it stands right now, 325 Sandhill cranes have been taken. We will let you know when we finalize that number….”

Whooping Crane and Sandhills at Hiwassee Refuge, December 14, 2008. Photo by R. Neal

Whooping Crane and Sandhills at Hiwassee Refuge, December 14, 2008. Photo by R. Neal

TWRA seems in the dark as to just how many Sandhills were actually killed this season

While the first Tennessee Sandhill Crane season closed January 1, 2014,  it is still unclear – seemingly even to TWRA – as to just how many Sandhills were actually killed by hunters? Immediately following the close of the first of a 3-year experimental season news coverage reported 118 birds killed with several more reports expected to “trickle in.” Then, when questioned almost two weeks later, TWRA gave other numbers as the final total. After the recent Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Memphis the reported total number of cranes harvested is 309…maybe. What?!

According to TWRA Wildlife Chief Daryl Ratajczak, there seems to have been a hold-up of TWRA bulk mailings at the U.S. post office resulting in “a large number of sandhill crane harvest reports…held up.” Read more here.

On the TWRA website under the Sandhill Crane hunting information it states:  “Daily bag, season bag, & possession is 3 cranes.   Harvested cranes must be accompanied by a completed kill tag and checked in by the end of the calendar day by mailing completed business reply card on the permit.  Hunters are also required to fill out and return a post-season survey.

If TWRA has no true idea of how many cranes were killed how can TWRA  possibly monitor hunters and stop the hunt when the quota is met?  If hunters were required to turn in tags at the end of the calendar day the crane was killed, why are reports still “trickling in?” Why was telecheck not used?

During the Commission approval process the public was assured that communication with hunters would take place and hunters could check numbers – how is this possible with a postcard system? The process of relying on the postal service for on-going numbers and then admitting those mailings “were held up in the mail,” seems antiquated, non-communicative and not the best way to manage a quota hunt.

This mis-handling of the season is disturbing and does nothing to instill public confidence in the agency claiming oversight in “management” of Tennessee’s Sandhills.

The Gift of Cranes

TWRC approves a 3-year experimental Sandhill Crane season for Tennessee

On August 22, 2013, in seeming indifference to overwhelming public opposition to a hunt and against expert scientific data indicating a trend of declining productivity rates among Sandhill Cranes, the Wildlife Management Committee of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TWRC) voted to approve the state’s first Sandhill Crane hunting season. This morning the full TWRA commission voted and approved the season.  As in Kentucky, USFWS mandates the hunt be a three-year experimental season to be reassessed at the end of that period.

Season details:

  • November 28, 2013 – January 1, 2014
  • Hours: sunrise to 3:00pm
  • 400 permits, with a limit of three birds per permit (a drawing will be held October 19 in Birchwood)
  • All permit holders will have to pass a crane identification test before the permits become valid
  • Hunt zone is southeastern corner of TN– east of Hwy 56 and south of I-40 – area surrounding the  Hiwassee Refuge

Dr. Jane Goodall and Pres. Jimmy Carter join advocates in opposing hunting cranes in Tennessee

Dr. Jane Goodall, World-renowned animal researcher; Former President Jimmy Carter

Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned animal researcher and Former President Jimmy Carter join opposition to proposed Tennessee hunt

Former President Jimmy Carter and world-renowned animal researcher Dr. Jane Goodall publicly announced their opposition to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s (TWRA) proposal to allow Sandhill Crane hunting in Tennessee. The proposal, set for a vote by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) on August 22 and 23 in Knoxville, allows for the issuance of permits to kill more than 2,300 Sandhill Cranes though experts warn that the endangered Whooping Crane is sure to be in the line of fire.  Read The Tennessee Tribune story here.

Federal and TWRA public comment periods are now closed

Despite the fact that both federal and TWRA public comment periods are now closed, those concerned about the proposed Sandhill season are encouraged to write their local newspapers – letters to the editor, OpEd pieces, etc., where one’s voice may still be heard.  TWRC will be voting on the proposed rule at the August 22 meeting in Knoxville.

International_Crane_Foundation_logoThe International Crane Foundation, a non-profit group,  internationally recognized as one of THE leading experts in the study and conservation of the 15 species of cranes worldwide (one that neither endorses or opposes hunting) – responded to TWRA’s call for public input. Following is an excerpt from the document.  To read the letter and assessment in its entirety click here International Crane Foundation assessment of the proposed Tennessee Sandhill Crane season.

“…Please note that the International Crane Foundation does not endorse or oppose Sandhill Crane hunting in North America. We recognize the role of regulated hunting in current wildlife population management practices, and the importance of hunting traditions to communities, not just on this continent, but globally. We maintain, however, three strong positions relative to crane hunting. First, the cranes need help from everyone – including hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, farmers, and other landowners – to conserve crane populations and the wetlands that cranes and other waterbirds depend upon for survival. Second, any decisions about hunting should be based on the best scientific information available. Third, it is crucial for people to participate in public discussions on the subject. As experts in crane biology and as managers of a long term database on an eastern U.S. Sandhill Crane population, our role is to provide biological information and assessment relevant to issues considered by states as they make management decisions, such as hunting or crop damage, on Sandhill Cranes. We believe that Tennessee should not initiate a Sandhill Crane hunting season until there is further consideration of the major concerns expressed in this assessment…”

                                                                                              – International Crane Foundation

And the following concerning the Whooping Cranes present at Hiwassee.

“Section 2: 1. Potential impact of hunting Sandhill Cranes on EMP of Whooping Cranes 

The proposed hunting season for Sandhill Cranes does not take sufficient steps to reduce the risk of accidental shooting of Whooping Cranes. 

…States, where legal harvest of Sandhill Cranes has overlapped with the presence of Whooping Cranes, have implemented several conservation measures to avoid accidental shootings. Measures include closures of areas to hunting when Whooping Cranes are present, ID tests for hunting license applicants, later opening hours to reduce mis-identification in low light circumstances and coordinating communication to hunters when Whooping Cranes are present in an area.

The Tennessee proposal of a Sandhill Crane hunt has not specified which, if any, of these measures are being considered to minimize the chance of an accidental shooting of a Whooping Crane. The proposed hunting area, centered on the Hiwassee Wildlife Area, hosts both Sandhill and Whooping Cranes. Whooping Cranes forage outside the refuge boundaries frequently and all observations of Whooping Cranes, when found outside refuge boundaries, occur in close approximation to Sandhill Cranes (figure 1, see below). In most cases Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes occur in mixed flocks at Hiwassee Wildlife Area so the risk of accidental shooting would be considerably higher if a full array of preventative measures were not implemented. Hunter ID tests alone are unlikely to be sufficient at mitigating this risk. The minimum cost to raise a Whooping Crane from egg formation through fledging in captive settings is approximately $52,000. …”

ICF-WHCR sightings at Hiwassee Dec 2012-Jan 2013

Talking points on potential Sandhill Crane hunt
by subject:

Sandhill Cranes would be a new game species

  • Tennessee has many traditionally hunted game species. The Sandhill Crane has never been legally hunted in the state. Since the number of hunters is declining, and public opinion opposes a Sandhill hunt, why should another game species be added to the list?
  • TWRA conducted a public opinion survey. There was little enthusiasm among hunters for a crane hunt, and most Tennessee residents were opposed. Even if the number of cranes is increasing in the state, why would you vote against public opinion?
  • Hunters have the right to hunt game species. By choosing not to hunt Sandhill Cranes, hunters aren’t denied the right to hunt anything because these cranes have never been hunted in Tennessee.

Whooping Cranes could be shot

  • Whooping Cranes are present at the Hiwassee Refuge all winter and forage off the refuge with Sandhill Cranes. This means that Whooping Cranes would be on land open to hunting. There have been many cases where these cranes have been shot. Recently, a hunter was fined $85,000 for killing one. (Read more about recent WHCR deaths)
  • Seventy years ago Whooping Cranes had been extirpated from Eastern North America. Now there are a mere 104 birds after twelve years of reintroduction efforts. Why risk the accidental shooting of one of these precious birds that are found among Sandhill Cranes every day they are in Tennessee?

Crop damage

  • Crop damage can’t be a huge financial issue in Tennessee because there are no row crops in the ground when the cranes are present in the state.
  • If TWRA believes that cranes are causing crop damage, then the responsible thing to do would be to stop planting corn on the refuge.

Conflict  with wildlife watching

  • Since hunt clubs and private land where cranes would be feeding are immediately next to Hiwassee there would need to be a 5-mile buffer around the refuge. Shooting a low-flying crane coming off the roost, or standing foraging in a field wouldn’t be sporting.
  • Thousands of people come to the Hiwassee Gazebo to watch cranes every day the cranes are present. While maybe as many as 100,000 cranes visit the refuge and hunting won’t hurt the population, this is the only place a large species in huge numbers can predictably be seen in Tennessee. Hearing cranes shot, seeing crippled cranes, wouldn’t promote hunting or TWRA in Tennessee.

For more talking points click here:  Expanded talking points on potential crane hunt by subject.

Sign “No hunting of cranes in Tennessee” petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/538/586/914/no-hunting-of-cranes-in-tennessee/

TWRA contact information:

Ed CarterTWRA Director
Email:  ed.carter@tn.gov

Dr. Jeff McMillin (2012-2017), TFWC Chairman  (Statewide)
1705 Edgemont Avenue
Bristol, TN 37620-4307
Cell: (423) 534-2494
Fax: (423) 968-5015
Email: jeff.mcmillin@tn.gov

Jeffrey H. Griggs (2012-2015), TFWC Vice-Chairman
(District 7) – District counties: Benton, Carroll, Decatur, Hardin, Henderson, Henry and Perry
P.O. Box 541
Lexington, TN 38351-0541
Business: (731) 968-6191
Fax: (731) 968-6119
Cell: (731) 614-0623
Email: jeff.griggs@tn.gov

Franklin J. “Jim” Bledsoe (2012-2017), TFWC Secretary
(District 3) – District counties: Clay, DeKalb, Fentress, Grundy, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam. Smith, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren and White

1760 Poplar Cove Road
Jamestown, TN 38556
Business: (931) 879-1224
Cell: (931) 265-7201

Clayton Stout (2012-2019)
(District 1) – District counties: Carter, Claiborne, Cocke, Greene, Grainger, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington
1301 Iris Avenue
Johnson City, TN  37601
Business:   (423) 257-9941
Cell:          (423) 360-4114
E-mail: stout.clay@tn.gov

William H. “Harold” Cannon, Jr. (2012-2017)
(District 2) – District counties: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Cumberland, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Union
14316 Virtue Road
Lenoir City, TN     37772-5357
Business:      (865) 670-8555
Cell:             (865) 389-4525
Email: harold.cannon@tn.gov

Jamie Woodson (2012-2019)
(District 5) – District counties: Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Davidson, Franklin, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, and Wilson
1648 N. Dickerson Chapel Rd.
Lebanon, TN  37087
Business:   (615) 727-1545
Cell:          (865) 385-1930
Email: jamie.woodson@tn.gov

Julie Schuster (2012-2015)
(District 6) – District counties: Cheatham, Dickson, Giles, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury, Montgomery, Stewart, Wayne, and Williamson
4484 Pine Drive
Pegram, TN 37143
Cell: (615) 477-6430
Email: julie.schuster@tn.gov

Fred E. “Trey” Teague III (2012-2017)
(District 8) – Chester, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Lake, Madison, Obion, and Weakley
25G Stonebrook Place, Suite 177
Jackson, TN 38305
Cell: (731) 616-1470
Email: trey.teague@tn.gov

William W. “Bill” Cox (2012-2019)
(District 9) – District counties: Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Lauderdale, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton
McGinnis Oil Company
98 Main Street
Collierville, TN  38017-2616
Business:    (901) 853-2264
Cell:           (901) 828-7500
Fax:            (901) 853-2276
Email: bill.cox@tn.gov

James H. “Jim” Ripley (2012-2017) (Statewide)
Sharp & Ripley PLLC
P.O. Box 4630
Sevierville, TN  37864-4630
Business:   (865) 453-2877
Cell:          (865) 804-4357
Email: jim.ripley@tn.gov

Thomas A. “Tom” Rice (2012-2015) (Statewide)
713 Mel Park Drive
Nashville, TN  37204
Business:     (615) 385-4422
Cell:            (615) 347-7761
Fax:            (615) 385-4798
E-mail: tom.rice@tn.gov

James Stroud (2012-2015) (Statewide)
330 Franklin Rd., Suite 135A-176
Brentwood, TN  37027
Business:    (615) 321-5683
Cell:           (615) 308-8899
Email: james.stroud@tn.gov

Robert Martineau (Ex-Officio Member)
Commissioner – TDEC (Statewide)
1st Floor, L & C Tower Annex
401 Church Street
Nashville, TN 37243-0435
Business: (615) 532-0106
Fax: (615) 532-0120

Julius Johnson (Ex-Officio Member)
Commissioner – TN Dept. of Agriculture (Statewide)
Ellington Agricultural Center
P.O. Box 40627
Nashville, TN 37204
Business: (615) 837-5202
Fax: (615) 837-5333

Governor Bill Haslam
State Capitol
Nashville, TN 37243
Business: (615) 741-2001
Email: Bill.haslam@tn.gov

TWRA Requests Public Input on Proposed Sandhill Crane Season

TWRAThe TWRA is soliciting input on a possible sandhill crane hunting season. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended a potential 60-day sandhill crane season, with 775 permits available (3 birds per permit). The sandhill crane zone would be restricted to the southeastern portion of the state (south of I-40, East of Hwy 56) where the majority of the birds migrate. To provide comments on the sandhill crane season, send emails to TWRA.Comment@tn.gov with the subject line “Sandhill Crane.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also have a 10-day public comment period once the recommendation is published to the Federal Register in late July.

Both the Waterfowl opening day survey and the TWRA sandhill crane comment period will be open until August 10, 2013. For those individuals without internet services, comments on both issues can be mailed to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Attn: Sandhill Crane Hunt, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN, 37204.

Do you think TWRA should allow a 60-day Sandhill Crane hunting season?

Click on the following link to take the poll  http://www.tennessean.com/interactive/article/20130707/PROMO/130708001/POLL-Do-you-think-Tennessee-Wildlife-Resources-Agency-should-allow-60-day-sandhill-crane-hunting-season

Additional reading for an informed opinion:
“Tennessee’s Majestic Sandhill Crane” article http://www.tn.gov/environment/tn_consv/archive/sandhill_cranes.pdf



Talking points for letters:
(Scroll up for Commissioner contact information)

  • TWRA invested in an EXPENSIVE public survey that showed little to no interest in a Sandhill Crane (SACR) hunt, even among hunters, yet the agency has chosen to ignore the findings and push the hunt forward.
  • Negative impact on TWRA (Agency) at a time when relationships between the Agency and wildlife watchers are at a high ( i.e.  Land acquisition, reward money for Eagles, Discover Bird Children’s Activity book and TN Watchable Wildlife).
  • Low reproduction rates of Sandhill Cranes.
  • Public misconception about crop damage by cranes, fed by misinformation.
  • Hunting will NOT solve crop damage – there is NO study to prove it.
  • Depredation permits procedure is in place.  If that system is “broken” then fix it.
  • Non-hunting alternatives exist, are effective, are sustainable and are in use in the Midwest.
  • Cranes overwinter at the Hiwassee WMA because TWRA plants corn to attract them and the shallow water makes for a good roosting site.
  • WHOOPING CRANES! – They’re present the entire time SACR are at Hiwassee.  This introduced population is essential to the recovery of the Eastern population.  Not to even mention the huge investment of time and money that it takes to raise and release a single crane.
  • These birds do not BELONG to Tennessee…or Kentucky…they are part of the WHOLE Eastern Population we’re just lucky that they chose to stop here in Tennessee.  So we should PROTECT them, NOT shoot them.
  • When there are over 80 species to hunt in Tennessee why is there a pressing need to add another?  Especially a tall, charismatic bird that could be used to educate the public about wildlife and habitat preservation.
  • As a Watchable Wildlife opportunity, these cranes could bring tourism dollars to the State as has already been shown in Meigs and Rhea Counties with the annual Sandhill Crane Festival.  Sandhill Cranes should be revered and watched.

Despite Public Survey findings, TWRC moves forward with TN Sandhill Crane season

Sandhill cranes r_David L. RoemerThe Service Regulations Committee (SRC) of the USFWS has released the early season regulations of the proposed framework for the TN Sandhill Crane hunt. Details of the proposal were discussed/explained at yesterday’s Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission meeting just after results of the 2013 Public Survey were presented (a survey that indicates both a general lack of knowledge by the public about Sandhill Cranes and no widespread interest for hunting them).

A thought among the Commissioners at the meeting was that hunting Sandhills at Hiwassee could co-exist with the annual Sandhill Crane Festival.  But, for the attending public, the chance of seeing crippled cranes or having no Sandhills/Whooping Cranes any where in the area might significantly detract from the festival’s success…

Proposed framework details:
Season: 60 days to run concurrently with late waterfowl season
Zone: east of Highway 56 and south of Interstate 40 (southeastern part of the state, including Hiwassee WMA)
Hunt closes at 3:00pm each day
Permits: 2,325 permits – to be issued in 775, 3-permit packets
Species ID test will be required

The proposed rule will be published in the USFWS Federal Register in late July and includes a 10 day public comment period. More information to come.

The Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission meets next on August 22-23, 2013.  At that meeting the Commission will make its recommendations on finalizations for the TN season framework and vote to accept it.

NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL OPPOSED TO THE PROPOSED TENNESSEE SEASON TO CONTACT YOUR DISTRICT COMMISSIONER, GOVERNOR AND DIRECTOR OF TWRA TO VOICE YOUR OPINION!  (See contact list above) The Eastern population of Sandhill Cranes doesn’t belong to the states they migrate over or to the states in which they stage. The cranes belong to EVERYONE in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways (eastern U.S.) and need to be viewed and valued as such. What happens in one state affects the entire population.

Watch a video of the June 27, 2013 Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission meeting  http://twraonline.org/TFWC/index.html

Results of Sandhill Crane Public Survey to be presented at TWRA Commission meeting Thursday June 27   

TN Sandhill Crane survey report cover

The “Tennessee Residents’ and Hunters’ Knowledge of and Opinions on Sandhill Cranes, 2013” study was conducted for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) by Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, VA.  The telephone survey questionnaire was developed cooperatively by Responsive Management and the TWRA.  Responsive Management’s Executive Director, Mark Duda, will present the results of the survey to the Commissioners at the TWRA Wildlife Management Committee meeting this Thursday, June 27 at 1:00.

Tennessee Residents’ and Hunters’ Knowledge of and Opinions on Sandhill Cranes 2013  To read complete survey click  TN crane survey report

The purpose of the survey was to determine Tennessee residents’ and hunters’ knowledge of and experiences with sandhill cranes, their opinions on hunting sandhill cranes, and their experiences with the annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival. The study entailed a telephone survey of residents of the state as a whole, a sample of residents of counties in which the Hiwassee Wildlife Management Area is located, and a sample of hunters in the state as a whole.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission holds meetings about once a month to discuss and vote on issues concerning Tennessee’s regulations on hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. The public is always encouraged to attend TWRC meetings.

Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission contact infohttp://www.tn.gov/twra/comnames.html

The 2013 Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival THANKS YOU for attending and making our weekend a huge success!

January 19-20, 2013

Over 1,800 people attended the 2013 Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival from 14 states as well as South Africa and Australia. It was a terrific weekend.  Beautiful weather, many smiling faces and lots of wildlife. This extraordinary concentration of Tennessee’s tallest birds occurs every November through February, and viewing is always open to the public at the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s Hiwassee Refuge in East Tennessee. So if you didn’t get a chance to join us at the Festival plan a trip on down to Hiwassee some time soon and enjoy these most watchable species of wildlife!

TN Sandhill Crane Festival graphic

Links of interest:
Directions to Birchwood and the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
Tennessee Watchable Wildlife on Sandhill Cranes
Morgan Simmons Jan 10, 2011 article Knoxville News Sentinel:  Rare Crane Joins Hiwassee Flock
International Crane Foundation:  http://www.savingcranes.org

An Intimate Visit with Hiwassee’s Sandhill Cranes

Recently, Tennessee artist/writer/photographer and nature blogger, Vickie Henderson,  was invited by a Birchwood landowner for an amazing, up-close viewing opportunity of foraging Sandhill Cranes.  Arriving before dawn to take her position in a blind, Vickie watched as Sandhills arrived from their roost at Hiwassee to spend the day foraging in the nearby fields.  To read more about this unique opportunity and see more of Vickie’s photos from the day please go to her blog: http://vickiehenderson.blogspot.com/2012/01/intimate-visit-with-hiwassees-sandhill.html


TWRC Votes to Delay Sandhill Hunting Regulation Process for Two Years

Released on Fri, Jan 21, 2011 – 2:53 pm

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission has delayed a decision for at least to two years to move forward through the regulation process and request the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a hunting season for sandhill cranes in the state.

The decision came in a vote by the commission at its January meeting which concluded Friday at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region II Ray Bell Building. A lengthy discussion was held during the wildlife portion of the committee meetings on Thursday. The commission heard presentations from Tim White, TWRA Migratory Game Bird Coordinator and Jim Kelley of the USFWS.  The TWRC also heard opinions from representatives on both sides of the issue.

A draft hunt plan by the TWRA had been presented to the commission at the June 2010 meeting for a 2011-12 season. This plan was approved by the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway Councils in July 2010. The commission had directed the agency to develop this plan as a result of a request made by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.

A period for accepting public comments began last fall concerning the possibility of the establishment of a sandhill crane hunting season and continued until prior to the TWRC meeting.

– TN.gov newsroom

Read more at the links below:
Vickie Henderson’s blog
“…The question remains, does the Management Plan for the Eastern Population have the science to support the hunting objective that is currently included in the Plan? Many of us would like to see that science revisited; there are many deficiencies in available knowledge about the Eastern Population that are identified within the Plan, itself. Additionally, some kind of equitable representation of opposing views on that level seems warranted, since any state that hunts the Eastern Population impacts the entire population.

For this reason, I have sent a letter requesting the assistance of Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, on behalf of those of us who are concerned about the current Management Plan. The letter and a supporting document that summarizes concerns is published on this blog in the above page tab bars under the banner. Each also can be found in the following links:  USFWS Sandhill Crane Letter and Request for Revision of Management Plan

I am encouraging individual conservationists and conservation organizations to send their own letters of concern and inquiry to USFWS.  Additionally, a petition has been created to both educate the public, and to demonstrate the number of people who are concerned about this plan.  The petition can be found here.…”  –Vickie Henderson

TOS SACR hunting season position statement

TOS comments on SACR hunt sent to  Director and TWRA Commission

TOS Website:

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