US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Sharp, D.E., K.L. Kruse, and J.A. Dubovsky, 2006. Status and harvests of sandhill cranes: Mid-Continent and Rocky Mountain Populations. Unnumbered. Administrative Report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado 9pp.


Compared to the increases that were recorded in the 1970s, annual indices to abundance of the Mid-Continent Population (MCP) of Sandhill Cranes has been relatively stable since the early 1980s. The Central Platte River Valley, Nebraska spring index for 2006, uncorrected for visibility bias, was 183,000. The photo-corrected 3-year average for 2003-05 was 422,133, which is within the established population-objective range of 349,000-472,000 cranes. All Central Flyway states, except Nebraska, allowed crane hunting in portions of their respective states during 2005-06. About 9,950 hunters participated in these seasons, which was 8% higher than the number that participated in the 2004- 2005 season. Hunters harvested 18,575 MCP cranes in the U.S. portion of the Central Flyway during the 2005-06 seasons, which was 28% higher than the estimated harvest for the previous year. The retrieved harvest of MCP cranes in hunt areas for the Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) of sandhill cranes (Arizona & New Mexico), Alaska, Canada, and Mexico combined was estimated at 13,587 during 2005-06. The preliminary estimate for the North American MCP sport harvest, including crippling losses, was 36,674, which is 11% higher than the previous year’s estimate of 33,182. The long-term (1982-2004) trends for the MCP indicate that harvests have been increasing at a higher rate than population growth. The fall 2005 pre-migration survey estimate for the RMP was 20,865, which was 13% higher than the previous year’s estimate of 18,510. The 3-year average for 2003-05 is 19,633, which is within established population objectives of 17,000 - 21,000. Hunting seasons during 2005-06 in portions of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, resulted in a harvest of 702 cranes, an 18% increase from the harvest of 594 the year before.