ACTION ALERT! Tomorrow, MARCH 15, 2011, is the deadline for public comment on a proposal to hunt sandhill cranes in Kentucky. If you wrote to Tennessee in the 10,000 Birds campaign this winter, you can cut and paste your letter, changing “Tennessee” to “Kentucky.” If not, please read my letter, crib bits of it in your own words if you wish, avoiding overly sentimental or confrontational wording, and politely email Mr. Gassett at this address: email@example.com
CC your letter to FW_Suggestions@ky.gov
Do it now, please, for the cranes. We fought them back in Tennessee; there’s a two-year stay on their proposal. We can fight them back in Kentucky, too. The Kentucky Ornithological Society and the Beckham Bird Club have both come out strongly against the hunting season. Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Jon Gassett has indicated that if enough people write in protest, the proposed hunting season–due to start this December– will be reconsidered. Nobody owns these cranes–they’re free for all to enjoy. If you think it’s wrong to shoot them, please take the time to email Mr. Gassett. THANK YOU!
March 14, 2011
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Jon Gassett, Commissioner
One Sportsman’s Lane
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Dear Mr. Gassett,
I am a writer, naturalist and artist with a special interest in human/bird interactions.
For my new book, due out in 2012 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I’ve been researching sandhill crane hunting. The sandhill crane has the lowest recruitment rate (average number of young birds joining a population each season) of any bird now hunted in North America. Historic recruitment rates of all migratory sandhill crane populations range from 7.5% to a high of 11%.
Since 1975, hunting in the Central Flyway has taken around 20,000 cranes annually (E.M. Martin, U.S. FWS report). This represents 6% of the estimated mid-continental spring population of 322,700 birds for the same two decades. Given the projected recruitment rate, harvesting 6% of the population each year in the US alone seems to me to be cutting it too close to the edge. Kills in Canada, Alaska and Mexico are not included in the count. What about all the other birds that die from inexperience, disease, natural predation and accidents? Further, the crane take in Mexico is a free-for-all: neither regulated nor recorded.
Hunting sandhill cranes in Kentucky is a bad idea from a public relations standpoint, considering the growing cadre of birders and nature enthusiasts for whom cranes are a touchstone species. How can Kentucky possibly garner enough revenue from crane hunting to offset the outrage when birdwatchers find out that the cranes they love and travel to see are being shot? Hunting is on a steady downturn, and nonconsumptive wildlife pursuits are on a tremendous upswing. Nationwide, wildlife watchers now outspend hunters 6 to 1. The explosion in digital photography allows people to stalk wildlife without harming it. Initiating a hunting season on a large, charismatic species like a crane is no way to resuscitate hunting. It is, however, an excellent way to alienate nonconsumptive wildlife enthusiasts, and further polarize the camps.
Texas and North Dakota together account for 88% of the total yearly kill of sandhill cranes. There is evidence that a unique Canadian prairie population of lesser sandhill cranes is being selectively wiped out, since they migrate over the most heavily hunted areas of Texas. It should go without saying that the incidental kill of endangered whooping cranes is an unacceptable cost of adding another state to the shooting gallery all along both species’ migration route. Of the Central Flyway states, Nebraska alone holds out in protecting the cranes, having proven by its longstanding Festival of the Cranes in Kearney that a crane is worth infinitely more alive and purring in the sky with its family than thudding, broken and bleeding, into a cornfield. Just ask Bill Taddicken, director of the Lillian Annette Rowe Sanctuary on the Platte River in Kearney. Crane tourism brings that little town around $10 million each year in revenue, without a single shot being fired.
Proposing a hunting season on a bird with that kind of ecotourism potential simply doesn’t make sense. Giving a few hundred hunters something else to shoot, in my opinion, cannot be worth the blowback from tens of thousands of people who are willing to travel and spend just to watch the birds fly over. Please reconsider this proposal, and consider taking a lesson from what happened in Tennessee. Letters and emails by the thousand poured into the commissioners’ offices, protesting its crane hunting proposal. Even more telling, the support the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission was expecting from its hunting community simply never materialized. I’ve received letters and emails from a number of avid hunters who find the concept of shooting cranes repugnant. TWRC’s response to the outcry was a two-year stay on the proposed season. I feel certain that, given Tennessee’s 18-year track record of celebrating cranes in a tremendously successful festival, the opposition will only be stronger in 2013. I would encourage the KDFW to take Tennessee’s example as an indication that offering sandhill cranes for hunting will create far more public relations trouble than it’s worth.
I sent an email, had trouble with the firstname.lastname@example.org email address. Not sure what that is.
The actual address is FW_Suggestions@ky.gov
That email seems to work for me. And don’t forget to email Commissioner Gassett at
Thank you very much.
I will try again, I think I missed that FW_. I did email Jon Gassett with no problem.
Julie, thank you so much for calling this deadline to attention! I overlooked the date. My letters went out today! And a blog post went up: http://vickiehenderson.blogspot.com/2011/03/kentucky-sandhill-crane-hunt-proposal.html
March 14, 2011
Commissioner Jon Gassett
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
#1 Sportsman’s Lane
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
Dear Commissioner Garrett,
As a writer, artist, and naturalist with a ten-year history of supporting crane conservation, I am writing to ask the Kentucky Wildlife Resources Commission to deny the proposed sandhill crane hunt in Kentucky.
As you know, earlier this year the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission deferred the hunting of sandhill cranes in Tennessee for another two years. One important reason is the wide discrepancy in mid-winter count survey numbers—in Tennessee those figures were 44,000 counted in 2010 versus only 12,000 counted in 2011.
Unlike the sandhill cranes in other parts of the country, the Eastern Population of Greater Sandhill is a separate and distinct population of sandhill cranes that has slowly recovered from near extirpation in the past 70 years. According to the authors of the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway Council’s joint management plan, there are many problems with the current survey count methods and further studies are needed.
Additionally, sandhill cranes reproduce very slowly. They reach breeding maturity at four to seven years of age, produce only one chick per nesting season, and only one in three offspring survive to fledging age. This slow reproduction rate is unlike any other avian game species currently hunted. Additionally, there have been no studies of the occurrence of fledgling offspring on wintering grounds.
Ohio has tracked two families of their state-endangered breeding sandhill cranes and found them to have wintered over in Tennessee in 2010. Initiating a hunting season at this point can destroy the restoration of some eastern state’s breeding populations.
While crop depredation is identified as a reason to hunt sandhill cranes, there are no studies that show that hunting reduces crop depredation. On the other hand, there are non-lethal remedies that are successfully deterring crop predation.
As a resource, large numbers of sandhill cranes migrating through Kentucky have more value to the state of Kentucky as a wildlife attraction. Only a small number of people in Kentucky would benefit from establish a hunting season for sandhill cranes. On the other hand, the negative public relations created by establishing this season would far out weight any benefit.
Nebraska sees the migration of more than 500,000 staging sandhill cranes in the spring, does not permit hunting, and reaps the benefit of more than $10 million dollars a year in tourism dollars.
A five-year study of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail recently reported that the trail attracts more than 640,000 visitors annually, infusing more than $8.6 million into the state economy each year. 95% of these visitors plan to visit the Trail again.
The numbers of wildlife watchers spending dollars nationwide are steadily rising and staging sandhill cranes create a conservation spectacle that everyone loves to celebrate. Take advantage of this opportunity and please say “no” to hunting the Eastern Population of sandhill cranes.
Sent. Gladly. 🙂
Thank you for helping me find the link to send in my support of the managed hunting season on the Eastern Population of the game bird Sandhill Crane.
I am glad that there will be a managed hunting season. Now with the added interest in Sandhill Cranes and Sandhill management the extraordinary revenue that will be generated by hunters can be used to better understand them and continue to expand their populations.
It is from the money generated by hunters (and to a much lesser extent birdwatchers) through the purchase of Federal Duck Stamps, Pittman-Robertson matching funds, hunting liscense dollars and taxes levied on ammunition, guns, and fuel that natural resource departments and wildlife agencies are able to expand habitat and research these great game birds. Also, with the opening of more hunting seasons i am hopefull that more concerned sportsmen will start an organization along the same grain as Ducks Unlimited to protect and create Sandhill habitat.
Hunters and fish and wildlife departments having a stake in Sandhills is a great thing.
10 million dollars supposedly generated by birders is drop in the bucket compared to the massive amounts of money that interested and concerned sportsmen can throw at Sandhill Crane conservation.
You’re welcome, SmashDN. You’re in a distinct minority here, so your voice is needed. Actually, Tennessee’s proposed crane hunt was projected to cost the state quite a bit more than it would bring in, which was a factor in delaying it for further consideration. Here’s a tidbit from the NRA’s Hunters’ Rights website:
“Sandhill cranes are hunted much like geese, with decoys set in fields and hunters stationed in blinds. Although sandhill cranes are classified as migratory birds, a federal Duck Stamp is not required to hunt them, and hunters are allowed to use lead shot instead of the steel required for other migratory waterfowl.”
Isn’t that neat? You don’t have to buy a special license to hunt a crane. You don’t even have to have a duck stamp! It’s free! AND you can use lead shot, which will impact any scavenger like a bald eagle that happens to feed on the carcass you leave. So…where’s the massive revenue from shooting 400 cranes in Kentucky? Can it match the 10 million that comes into Kearney NE each season from ecotourism?
It’s time to stop spouting the tired old saw about how hunters pay for everything. They don’t any more, and they are distinctly outnumbered by the ecotourists in this arena.
If the biologist say KY has a population suitable for hunting then why does either side need to have a say in the hunting season? I say let the hunters hunt and the birders do their thing.
There are refuges for migratory birds with no hunting allowed. The smart birds will figure this out.
By that reasoning, MSettles, we should probably open season on red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, cardinals and robins. There are plenty of those around, too. And if they were smart, they’d simply take off for nature sanctuaries when we started firing on them. Why should “the biologist” be able to unilaterally bestow game bird status on a crane? Why shouldn’t people who travel to watch cranes have a say in whether they get shot? I wouldn’t want to live in a world where such decrees come down from on high, and we all just had to accept them. There are a heck of a lot of people (Britons and other Europeans, for example, as well as the vast majority of the wildlife watching American populace) who are repulsed at the thought of anyone killing a crane for food or sport. Tennessee found that out in January. Kentucky’s about to find it out, too.
But Julie….Biologist DID NOT propose a hunting season on red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, cardinals or robins. They proposed a hunting season on sandhill cranes; a species classified under the Migratory Bird Treat Act as a game species (you see none of those others are classified as game species so it would be impossible to propose a hunting season on them). A species which is the most abundant crane species on the planet. A species which has been hunted in the United States for the last 50 years (and in spite of your assertion that hunting has somehow damaged midcontinent populations 2009 saw the highest count on record). A species which is challenging to hunt and is excellent to eat. And so on and so on….
It’s funny you started your response to SmashDn with “You’re welcome, Mr. New. You’re in a distinct minority here, so your voice is needed.” And then you seem to have no tolerance of a voice that that has a different viewpoint. It is OK for people to like to hunt. You may not agree with it….but for millions of people across this nation hunting is a moral thing to do.
This proposed hunting season will clearly not impact the eastern population of sandhill cranes. The plan has been reviewed by >30 migratory bird biologist of the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways and both Flyways have supported the season.
As a birdwatcher, nature photographer and a hunter….I do support the season.
No problem Julie. But the reality is that by and large it would be waterfowl hunters hunting cranes so we would have already bought the required liscenses and stamps that fund the conservation of habitat that is used by many many more species than just those with a season. Additionally, I predict that most crane hunting would occur in the pursuit of other watefowl where non-toxic shot is required. Incidentally, cranes in my area often frequent cut corn fields where just a few months earlier dove hunting occured where the use of lead shot is perfectly legal and accepted.
Luckily, here in America we follow the American Model of wildlife management where the animals and fishes are managed for the good of the public and not owned by landowners as is the case in Great Britain and much of the rest of Europe. And that through the use of science based decisions (made by biologists who have trained and been schooled on that very thing (That is what gives them the “bestowing” power you speak of. In addition to the fact that Sandhill Cranes are game birds by the fact that they are now and have traditionally been hunted for the table.)) we allow limited (by season and bag limits) hunting on populations of game animals that can sustain it.
I can’t give creedance to your thought that hunters are no longer paying for everything, as I never said that. But I will say that for the longest time hunters did pay for everything. Apparently it is just now that birders and “eco-tourists” are finally opening up their wallets in the way that hunters have for more than a century. Heres to you in your effort to play catch-up in funding for conservation that you are reaping the benefits of.
The Sandhill Crane is no different than the Aleutian strain of Canada goose. Through changes in regulation and an increase in conservation efforts (funded again by hunters and sportsmen) they have rebounded spectacularly. Same with the Wood Duck, the Northern Pintail Initiative funded by sportsmen, the Ducks Unlimited Living Lakes Initiative funded by hunters and sportsmen to improve and restore habitat along the Great Lakes that benefits many more species than huntable waterfowl, Delta Waterfowl’s Adopt-a-Pothole program protecting the fragile and extremely important wetlands of the Prarie Pothole Region.
Yes the funding provided by sportsmen matches and then far surpasses the 10M that you report being brought to one area of Nebraska. From July 1 2008-June 30 2009 Ducks Unlimited raised 200.4 million dollars for habitat conservation. That is one year for one organization. While probably the largest, there are many such organizations, made up of and funded by sportsmen, across the US and Canada raising money. I would venture a guess that just the fund raising portion of sportsmen and women in those organizations dwarf the TOTAL economic impact of birders and “eco-tourists.” Factoring in all of the revenue that is generated in MANY (not just one town in Nebraska) by sportsmen traveling to fish and hunt, buying gas, groceries, hotel rooms, and using services, you argument based on a piddly 10M is laughable.
I agree with smashDN and the others who support the proposed season in ky. I disagree with your idea of “By that reasoning, MSettles, we should probably open season on red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, cardinals and robins. There are plenty of those around, too. And if they were smart, they’d simply take off for nature sanctuaries when we started firing on them. Why should “the biologist” be able to unilaterally bestow game bird status on a crane? Why shouldn’t people who travel to watch cranes have a say in whether they get shot?”
Well these biologist go through years of schooling just to be able to even start their career in this field. Then on top of that they go through countless hours of researching before they even come to their first hypothesis which is tested by themselves and other biologist numerous times before they can even propose such an idea as this one. I understand where you might not agree with your idea of a single person making a decision like this but what you do not realize is how many people who specialize in this area go over this idea and double and triple check the statistics before something like this is proposed. I agree with what they say wholeheartedly because I’m not trained to do something like that when they are. I think they should be criticized for making this decision about as much as I would have the authority to criticize one of your art works or books. These biologist years ago realized that snow geese were bringing themselves to their own death because they were destroying their habitat implemented a snow goosse conservation season and now the numbers are more in control. No at the moment Sandhill cranes are not in danger of overpopulation to the point of killing themselves out but what I’m getting at is they know what they are talking about.
I’m sorry. But is this for real?
Did any of the above hunters read the facts?
Frankly, I think all four of them are the same person. Hiding behind anonymity while the rest of us stick our necks out for the good of a species in trouble.
Feed not the trolls.
I actually sat down and read the proposal and while I disagree with the season on the idea that it serves no purpose, I think the KDF&W put together a nice compromise.
What I liked:
Only 400 Cranes will be taken. How well that is enforced is up to the State and lets face it, no state is very good it at even with species with no and closed seasons.
All the hunting will take place for the most part on private land. The main congregation area, will be closed to hunting. It won’t take the birds long to figure out where they won’t be shot. Canada Geese and Crows can figure it out, so can Cranes.
Hunters will be required to pass and ID test. While this doesn’t 100% stop the accidental killing of other species (namely Whopping Crane)
What I don’t Like:
The hunting seems to have no purpose other than to reduce numbers. The proposal doesn’t mention crop destruction or other agricultural hazards.
The proposal is really only about 1 sub-species of Sandhill Crane. The various sub-species are not all that easy to seperate in the field and their likely won’t be any follow up by State officals to make sure hunter shoot the right one.
The proposal also didn’t give a very good idea of what this all means long term. Outside of some meager, short term infusion of cash from hunters, how does this hunting season benefit the state?
The season is proposed to run from December and go for 30 days or until 400 cranes. This happens to coincide with National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts, which surely these officals knew about? This also breeds the possabilities of confrontations between bird watchers and hunters on the surrounding private land.
Lots to think about. I’m still not in favor of it, because there seems to be no purpose for the hunt with no long term plan or goals.
I am a Kentucky resident and support the KY crane season 100% and applaud the KY biologists in writing a sound proposal that has been reviewed and approved by over 30 migratory bird biologists and the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway Council. Those opposed have anti-hunting agendas and can not be allowed to dictate what game species are hunted.
Please enlighten us. I have provided plenty of facts. Read many of the facts put worth by wildlife biologists and understand them. Recognize the various implictions of a hunting season but also recognize that the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
If you would have taken time to read Julie Zickefoose’s response to my first post she made mention of my last name. I did not post it. I can only guess she assumed it was in my email address, which it distinctly says is not published. While I had no intentions of disclosing my name I have no real problem with it other than it was done so without my consent.
Perhaps it could be that hunters and sportsmen are more passionate about this game bird and through our personal interactions with it can appreciate it more so than birders merely watching from afar? Does being able to harvest and eat and appreciate Sandhills on more than the one level that birders can appreciate give us more whole appreciation of just what a Sandhill is? I am inclined to believe so. I know personally I have the utmost respect and admiration for any animal I kill for food on many different levels that would be unknown to those who do not involve themselves to such an intimate level.
Ducks Unlimited does a whole lot for all species (see above story). Period. Hunters give millions of dollars to DU. Make your own correlative.
I am a hunter and I won’t be shooting any cranes.
Closed or not, if someone wants to shoot something you can’t do much about it. If there is no organized effort against said poachers what else could be done? Hunters pay for the regulatory agency that stops poaching. Without hunters who would stop unregulated poaching? Do away with hunters and allow
If you want less hunting in your culture, I suggest France.
Off to listen to some Rana sylvatica in the woods.
The problem in KY isn’t the recommendations of the biologists, it’s the power asserted by the Commission. A group of men, appointed by the governor, to reward his political cronies. They are merely puppets of the administration; doling out their “wisdom,” often at the expense of Kentucky’s natural resources.
There is one thing that could improve the management of Kentucky’s wildlife and natural resources. Remove the Commission!
As an avid Birdwatcher,Naturalist, etc I have mixed emotions. I wouldn’t be opposed to the season if I was shown that it truely wont hurt the resource. I am not completely sold yet on whether it will or won’t.
That being said, I acknowledge the gentleman who is pointing out the attributes of hunting and hunters. I have spent time at numerous Refuges,and Wildlife Management Areas, in more than a dozen states. The vast majority of these were purchased in full or at least mostly by hunters dollars. Its the sole reason I have always tolerated hunting. It’s not my cup of tea, but there is no doubting it’s contribution.
I would hate to guess where all of our migratory species would be without the dollars hunters have contributed. I just believe all parties should have a seat at the table.
COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED SANDHILL CRANE HUNT-July 21, 2011
I am Jim Daniel and as a licensed hunter I am one of KDFWR’s traditional “customers”, as they call us. I have hunted and fished around here all of my life and I do not support the establishment of a Sandhill Crane hunt in Kentucky and oppose this crane hunting season regulation. I came before the Commission on June 3 to express my concerns that the passage of this proposal would fuel the anti-hunting sentiment out there and damage our present and future funding mechanisms. The Commission responded in kind with a unanimous vote to approve the season on Sandhill Cranes. I see that move as being short-sighted and ignoring the facts that were presented.
From the testimony that was presented that day and from what I have learned since, I am perplexed about what exactly IS the case to hunt Sandhills. Call me old fashioned if you will, but things have to make sense to me. I have pondered this issue for some time now, talking to a lot of folks including other hunters, and given the information that was presented by the Department, this thing still doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. Maybe someone can help me understand.
We were told that this hunt was requested by sportsman due to the “increased visibility” of the species. I believe that the popularity of the Barren River State Park/Fish and Wildlife hosted crane viewing weekends certainly speaks to the increased visibility, but that is a whole different thing than the hunt. These weekends are filled with folks who willing pay $30 a head, plus lodging and food expenses, just to see and photograph Sandhills in their natural habitat. The Wildlife Management Area could probably triple or quadruple the number of sessions and fill every one of them if they were properly advertised. The money making potential and good-will building towards all things in support of conservation seems lucrative. Instead, we are choosing to drive up the box end canyon with no future in sight. It doesn’t make a lick of sense.
At the June meeting, we were also told that the implementation of this hunt was part of a long term strategy to make hunting more popular to our youth and thus, increase revenues for conservation through the sale of licenses and hunting equipment. True enough, there is real reason to be concerned about the future funding of F&W and conservation in general. According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation, Kentucky has a hunter replacement ratio of only .66, which means that only 2/3 of our youth in hunting families are continuing to participate in the sport. This means that the primary traditional source of funding habitat and resource management programs is unsustainable, so how will we continue funding conservation in Kentucky?
According to the KDFWR’s own web site, part of the answer appears to be that “wildlife watching is the fastest growing recreational activity in the world. In the U.S., wildlife watching generates more than $45 billion a year. In Kentucky, studies indicate that more people watch birds than play golf.” We hunters can like it or not, but eco-tourists are the future of conservation and therefore, hunting in Kentucky.
How will the implementation of this proposal effect public sentiment which could then negatively effect donations to the Kentucky Non-game Tax Checkoff, or maybe the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, or partnerships and gifts from major corporations to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation? After all, what individual would want to donate or what corporation would want to have its name associated with a highly unpopular and controversial program?
Given that inconvenient truth, does F&W and the Commission really think that declaring open season on Kentucky’s most watchable bird makes economic sense in the long run? Do they really think that hunting and killing Big Bird, to the horror of millions of our youth who grew up with him on Sesame Street, is a workable strategy to attract them into becoming hunters? Like I said, this doesn’t make a lick of sense.
One thing is for certain, this proposal is causing so much angst and ill-will within the conservation and eco-tourism community, that it doesn’t seem worth it. Why is F&W creating all of this fuss over just 400 possible birds taken, amongst only 400 hunters max with NO money generated for the Department? There just seems to be a lot of effort in KDFWR, coming from the top down, to get this off the ground in time for this coming season. We heard the Commissioner’s claim that 50 wildlife biologists have worked on the 2010 EP Management Plan and this hunting proposal, and there were two full-time biologists on it for at least two years. That is a tremendous expenditure of resources for a program that will serve just 400 (trophy) hunters a year and generate no revenue for the department. What could possibly justify this gross expenditure of scarce Department funds for so little apparent gain? This doesn’t make a lick of sense, or does it?
Maybe we should just follow the money. As a criminal investigator with Environmental Protection, that is what we did when stuff just didn’t add up. Who will be the primary beneficiaries of setting up this hunt? For sure, there are those who will profit from it, even if it isn’t KDFWR. If the elk hunt in Kentucky is any indication, there are rich city folks lining up to pay large dollars to private guides to hunt this “exotic” species on private/leased and public lands. The elk hunt is also lottery controlled and there are reports of hunters paying up to $25,000 for a bull elk tag on the black market. The limited Sandhill Crane tags will assure that the hunt remains exclusive, and thus keep the guide/lease fees high. One has to wonder what a black market Sandhill Crane tag for the “virgin” Eastern Population will be worth?
Who stands to profit? First, there are those few who are lucky enough to actually win the lottery or rich enough to buy a black market tag, comprised of what I imagine are mostly trophy/exotic species hunters . As a hunter who has hunted squirrel, rabbit and deer, I have never had much of an appreciation for trophy or exotic species hunters…or game ranches for that matter. It sounds like something rich guys like Dick Cheney like to do. To each his own, I guess. I see the spoils of trophy hunters every year…those who kill bucks just to chop out the big rack, leaving the rest of the animal to ruin. Nope, trophy hunters are not too high on my list.
Others who may benefit are those who own the land where KDFWR’s “trained and equipped wildlife biologists” have already performed surveys and identified the prime crane hunting locations. No doubt about it, having Sandhill Cranes on these properties will definitely be “a value-added asset”. Those with this insider information could be able to profit from it handily.
There are those “who are interested in buying, selling or leasing” these lands and the licensed realtors who specialize “in finding those opportunities of a lifetime” for their customers. They could make a bundle off of the implementation of this hunt.
Then there are the guides who “provide their customers with the convenience of a guided or outfitted trip”, connecting these crane trophy hunters with “high quality outdoor opportunities”. Also standing to profit are those who provide a booking service for customers “who like the convenience of a guided or outfitted trip but don’t have the time or resources to verify the reputation and abilities of a guide service”. Pretty cool sounding, huh?
Also in line to profit are those who have a wildlife consulting company that offers “a full range of products and services to customers who desire to evaluate, manage, enhance, and sustain their wildlife resources”. Those that are staffed by “trained, certified wildlife biologists, who will provide professional guidance on how to handle all of their wildlife issues, or can assist in a major land acquisition, a wildlife or fisheries survey, a habitat management plan, a fisheries enhancement plan”, are particularly well-situated to profit from this hunt.
While on the surface there is nothing wrong with the local community or others benefiting from hunting as long as there is nothing improper occurring. Now, let me be clear that I do not know that anyone at KDFWR will benefit personally from the implementation of the Sandhill Crane hunt, but it appears that there may be conflicts of interest potentially present. Factoring them into this equation certainly would help make all of the resources expended on this proposal to make sense…all that you have to do is just follow the potential money.
I understand there have been previous complaints filed against the current KDFWR agency’s head because of alleged conflicts of interest issues regarding private side businesses, such as Southern Wildlife Resources LLC and Greenwood Land Company. He sells himself on his personal website as having “more than 17 years experience as a wildlife biologist, land manager, and high level governmental policy maker in the wildlife conservation field” and a “licensed Kentucky realtor”. What is he selling, information or influence? Perhaps these or other businesses involving KDFWR employees may benefit by providing services to hunters, land owners and offering guide services. Perhaps KDFWR district commissioners may benefit from crane hunting. KDFWR’s insistence in pushing through this unpopular hunt further creates the potential for and appearance of conflicts of interest and personal gain to agency employees. Like I said, it has got to make sense.
All of these phrases that I have quoted were pulled directly from Dr. Gassett’s own private company’s web site…there were more but I think that you can get the gist of it with these. He is selling to the public the very services that he is promoting and approving in his official capacity as Commissioner of KDFWR. You have to hand it to him for his entrepreneurial spirit…it is a classic case of creating a need and then filling it…pure capitalism gone awry.
The mere appearance of improprieties, whether substantiated of not, is enough to quell future donations and grants to the KDFWR’s funding sources. We must maintain wildlife habitat in a world where development pressures are extreme, and the only way to do that is buy it. Where is the money going to come from? We need to be thinking about alliances with these folks here, not driving them away by whipping up stories in the hunting community about their opposition to this proposal being an assault on hunting in general. So far, that is about all that KDFWR has done, ignoring the economic realities and thus, the future.
Just stumbled across this while looking up regulations for sandhill crane hunting in Kentucky (which isn’t the state I live in but I may travel there for a duck hunt = money spent.) If I can add a sandhill crane to the hunt I will. This is coming 7 yrs after you wrote the initial article. I notice several things. Tennessee has now implemented a sandhill crane hunt. And increased the number of cranes each hunter can kill since that hunt was implemented. I know 3 waterfowl hunters in TN who got sandhill crane tags last year and none of them killed one. They are evidently pretty difficult to hunt. According to the Courier Journal website the Kentucky hunt allowing 400 cranes max to be killed has yet to break 100 per year. There was a statement made that hunting was on the decline. But according to the Courier Journal there have been increasing numbers of hunting licenses sold and deer killed thru 2015. I think you “facts” were more based on sentiment than reality. At least for Kentucky. If you wanted to do the statistics by total population then you may be correct. As large cities grow the population statistics change. But it doesn’t mean less hunters, just a smaller percentage perhaps. Tennessee putting in a crane season hasn’t changed anything for their Sandhill Crane Festival. It’s still huge. What has changed is that in TN and MO around the Mississippi River where I waterfowl hunt there are sandhill cranes. They didn’t used to be there. 20 years ago I was excited on summer camping trips to Wyoming if we saw sandhill cranes because we didn’t have them back home. Now I see them all the time coming home from duck hunting. Obviously your original intent of this failed as there is now hunting, but in retrospect it looks like fear mongering by an anti-hunter.