US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Sharp, D.E., J.A. Dubovsky, and K.L. Kruse. 2002. POPULATION STATUS AND HARVESTS: MID-CONTINENT AND ROCKY MOUNTAIN POPULATIONS of SANDHILL CRANES 2002. Unnumbered. Administrative Report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado 29pp.


The Mid-Continent Population of Sandhill Cranes has been relatively stable since the early 1980s, compared to the dramatic increases that were recorded in the 1970s. The Central Platte River Valley, Nebraska spring index for 2002, uncorrected for visibility bias, was 313,600. The photo-corrected 3-year average for 1999-2001 was 396,167, which is within the established population objective range of 343,000-465,000 cranes. All Central Flyway states, except Nebraska, allowed crane hunting in portions of their respective states during 2001- 02. About 8,650 hunters participated in these seasons, which was 24% higher than the number that participated in the previous year’s seasons. About 13,964 cranes were harvested in the Central Flyway during the 2001-02 seasons, which was 10% lower than the estimated harvest for the previous year. The retrieved harvest in the Pacific Flyway, Canada, and Mexico combined was estimated to be about 12,381 during 2001-02. The preliminary estimate for the North American sport harvest, including crippling losses, was 28,821, or about 13% lower than the previous year’s estimate. The long-term (1982-2000) trends for the Mid-Continent Population indicate that harvests have been increasing at a higher rate than population growth. The fall 2001 pre-migration survey estimate for the Rocky Mountain Population was 16,559, which was 17% lower than the previous year’s estimate of 19,990. The 3- year average for 1999-2001 is 18,683, which is within established population objectives of 17,000 - 21,000. Hunting seasons during 2001-02 in portions of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, resulted in a record high harvest of 898 cranes.