North American Crane Working Group


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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.


Reproduced by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


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.