Marihelen Wheeler: Stop the hunting of Sandhill Cranes


Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:19 a.m.

With the annual celebration of the return of our Sandhill Cranes, I am hoping that the recent attention being given them can be focused on the increased dangers they face as they come south. On July 13 ,2011, The Gainesville Sun published an alert that I posted suggesting that local residents protest the movement in Kentucky to harvest 400 Sandhill Cranes from Dec. 7 until Jan.15. There was a heated debate raging in that state all summer regarding permitting hunters to kill these birds as they migrated south.

I wrote to several legislators in Kentucky and posted letters to The Lexington Herald Leader, which they published. I also tried to involve our local reporters who finally decided, by their lack of action, that it wasn't newsworthy. Thankfully, but a little too late as Kentucky recently closed its first hunt, the Tampa Bay Times reported this atrocity on Dec. 23, 2011.

The hunting of tired and hungry Sandhill Cranes is no sport. Growing up in Kentucky, I know firsthand the vast expanse of wild lands and free-spirited people that will make it difficult to manage the 400-crane limit. It may also become a real danger to the Whooping Cranes who could easily be killed in a case of "mistaken identity." The current plan is set for three years and so we still have time to make our concerns known to the Fish and Game Departments in Kentucky and Tennessee, which is considering a similar move. Kentucky is the first state east of the Mississippi to approve this kill. Let Floridians work to make it the last.

Marihelen Wheeler,

Gainesville

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