Date of this Version
Kruse, K.L., D.E. Sharp, and J.A.Dubovsky. Population status, hunting regulations, and harvests of the Rocky Mountain population of greater sandhill cranes, 1981-2005. In: Folk, MJ and SA Nesbitt, eds. 2008. Proceedings of the Tenth North American Crane Workshop, Feb. 7-10, 2006, Zacatecas City, Zacatecas, Mexico: North American Crane Working Group. pp. 71-75.
The Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) of greater sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) was not hunted in the U.S. from 1916 until 1981, when Arizona initiated the first modern-day season. Hunting programs in the U.S. were subsequently expanded to 6 states for the RMP and have been guided by a cooperative flyway management plan, including a harvest strategy, which has been periodically updated and endorsed by the Central and Pacific Flyway Councils. From a management perspective, 3 population parameters have been identified to monitor the status and health of this population: harvest, recruitment, and population size. The number of permits that are allocated each year and issued by cooperating state wildlife agencies is determined by a formula contained in the Cooperative Flyway Management Plan. Average annual harvests of 443 birds have been reported during 1981-2005. Aerial population counts conducted in the San Luis Valley (SLV), Colorado, during the spring migration indicated that the number of RMP cranes was relatively stable during 1984-1996. In 1995, a cooperative 5-state September pre-migration staging-area survey was initiated (as an alternative to the SLV survey) and was designated as the official population survey in 1997. The 3-year population index average for 2003-2005 (19,633) was within the established population objectives of 17,000-21,000. Annual indices of recruitment (% juveniles), conducted during the fall in the San Luis Valley, Colorado, have averaged 7.9% during 1972-2005.