US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Sharp, D.E., K.L. Kruse, and J.A. Dubovsky. 2007. Status and harvests of sandhill cranes: Mid- Continent and Rocky Mountain Populations. Administrative Report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado. 9pp.


Compared to increases recorded in the 1970s, annual indices to abundance of the Mid-Continent Population (MCP) of sandhill cranes have been relatively stable since the early 1980s. The Central Platte River Valley, Nebraska, spring index for 2007, uncorrected for visibility bias, was 302,600 sandhill cranes. The photo-corrected, 3-year average for 2004-06 was 378,420, 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 States during 2006-07. About 10,120 hunters participated in these seasons, which was similar to the number that participated in the previous year season. Hunters harvested 17,631 MCP cranes in the U.S. portion of the Central Flyway during the 2006-07 seasons, which was 3% lower than the estimated harvest for the previous year. The retrieved harvest of MCP cranes in hunt areas outside the Central Flyway (Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, Canada, and Mexico combined) was estimated at 13,048 during 2006-07. The preliminary estimate for the North American MCP sport harvest, including crippling losses, was 35,341 birds, which is 3% lower than the previous year’s estimate. The long-term (1982-2004) trends for the MCP indicate that harvest has been increasing at a higher rate than population growth. The fall 2006 pre-migration survey for the Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) was not completed due to engine problems with the survey aircraft. The 3-year average for 2003-05 was 19,633 sandhill cranes, which is within established population objectives of 17,000-21,000 for the RMP. Hunting seasons during 2006-07 in portions of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, resulted in a harvest of 907 RMP cranes, a 29% increase from the harvest of 702 the year before, and a record high harvest for this population.