US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Sharp, D.E., J.A. Dubovsky, and K.L. Kruse. 2003. Status and harvests of the Mid-Continent and Rocky Mountain Population of sandhill cranes. Unnumbered. Administrative Report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado 9pp.


The abundance of 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 2003, uncorrected for visibility bias, was 316,676. The photo-corrected 3- year average for 2000-2002 was 375,875, 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 2002-03. About 8,800 hunters participated in these seasons, which was 10% higher than the number that participated in the previous year’s seasons. About 16,650 cranes were harvested in the Central Flyway during the 2002-03 seasons, which was 11% higher than the estimated harvest for the previous year. The retrieved harvest in the Pacific Flyway, Canada, and Mexico combined was estimated to be about 11,650 during 2002-03. The preliminary estimate for the North American sport harvest, including crippling losses, was 31,830, and similar to the previous year’s estimate of 31,498. 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 2002 pre-migration survey estimate for the Rocky Mountain Population was 18,803, which was 12% higher than the previous year’s estimate of 16,559. The 3-year average for 2000-2002 is 18,451, which is within established population objectives of 17,000 - 21,000. Hunting seasons during 2002- 03 in portions of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, resulted in a harvest of 639 cranes, a 29% decrease from the record high harvest of 898 from the year before.