North American Crane Working Group


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Sharp, David E., and William O. Vogel. "Population Status, Hunting Regulations, Hunting Activity, and Harvests of Mid-Continent Sandhill Cranes.", In: Stahlecker D. W., ed. 1992. Proceedings of the Sixth North American Crane Workshop, Oct. 3-5, 1991, Regina, Sask. (Grand Island, NE.: North American Crane Working Group, 1992), 24-32.


Conference co-sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources Department, and the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, Canadian Council. Proceedings used by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


The mid·continent population of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) was protected from 1916 until 1961, when hunting resumed on a limited basis. Areas open to hunting were experimentally expanded during 1961-72, but during the subsequent 1975-90 period only minor changes were made in the 8 Central Flyway states that established hunting seasons. Annual spring surveys conducted during 1982-90 indicated the population was stable at objective levels, with spring populations estimated at about 540,000 and fall flights near 590,000. Special federal hunting permits have been required for all bunters participating in regular seasons in the Central Flyway since 1975, where an average of 15,589 permits has been issued annually and about 42% (6,487) of hunters have been successful in annually bagging 1 or more cranes. Estimated Central Flyway harvests during those 16 seasons averaged 11,530 cranes. The combined North American hunting mortality estimates (including crippling losses) averaged 22,026 cranes, but recently increased to levels near or exceeding the established objective of 25,000 during each of the past 6 seasons. In 1990, harvest rates were estimated to be about 5.4% of the fall population, which exceeded the harvest rate objective of 5%. Since 1975, average seasonal bags have increased while crippling loss rates have decreased in Central Flyway states. The cooperative management plan has been an effective guide in managing harvests, but it should be revised to reflect recent information (1982-90) on population status and harvests.