In October, the House Natural Resources Committee reported out House Resolution No. 154, encouraging the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to add Sandhill cranes to the game species list and seek the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ approval to establish a Sandhill crane hunting season in Michigan. This resolution was adopted by the full House of Representatives.
MUCC testified and provided additional comments to the House Committee and the NRC, supporting the resolution but also recognizing that further information and discussion is needed on sandhill cranes to optimize current understandings of the species and the effects a hunting season would have on sandhill cranes. Neither MUCC nor the NRC or DNR has made any recommendations on proposed hunting regulations at this time as to timing, location, bag limit or other management aspects.
During the Nov. 9, 2017 NRC meeting, Chairman Matonich gave a full statement regarding House Resolution 154:
“I would like to make a quick comment regarding House Resolution 154. There seems to be some misinformation as to the status of Sandhill cranes in Michigan. I want the public to know that this commission has not added Sandhill cranes to the game species list.
Before this commission considers proceeding forward, it would be beneficial for us to know more about the agricultural conflicts and all available strategies that can be implemented to effectively reduce those conflicts.
Furthermore, please know that this decision does not rest solely with the NRC.
Since Michigan’s Sandhill cranes are part of the Eastern Population of greater Sandhill cranes, their management falls within the purview of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with recommendations from the Mississippi Flyway Council, a formal advisory council comprised of 17 states.
Before any hunting season could occur in Michigan, the DNR would have to indicate their intention to hold a hunt to the Mississippi Flyway Council. The Council then would discuss and make a quota recommendation to the Fish and Wildlife Service based on the harvest of cranes in other Mississippi Flyway Council states. The Fish and Wildlife Service would then either accept that recommendation or modify it to assure harvest does not negatively impact crane populations.
If this commission ever considers adding Sandhill cranes to the game species list, and then subsequent to that, considers hunting, it will do so only after a thorough consideration of the science and a complete exploration of all effective alternatives that might be used singly or in combination to resolve concerns.”