US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Sharp, D.E., J.A. Dubovsky, and K.L. Kruse. 2004. Status and harvests of the Mid-Continent and Rocky Mountain Populations of sandhill cranes. Unnumbered. Administrative Report, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado 8pp.


The abundance of the Mid-Continent Population of Sandhill Cranes has been relatively stable since the early 1980s, compared to the increases that were recorded in the 1970s. The Central Platte River Valley, Nebraska spring index for 2004, uncorrected for visibility bias, was 356,850. The photo-corrected 3-year average for 2001-2003 was 370,300, 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 2003- 04. About 7,700 hunters participated in these seasons, which was similar to the number that participated in the previous year’s seasons. Hunters harvested 18,527 in the Central Flyway during the 2003-04 seasons, which was 42% higher than the harvest for the previous year. The retrieved harvest in the Pacific Flyway, Canada, and Mexico combined was estimated at 13,109 during 2003-04. The preliminary estimate for the North American sport harvest, including crippling losses, was 35,706, which is 28% higher than the previous year’s estimate of 27,839 and the second highest harvest recorded. 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 2003 pre-migration survey estimate for the Rocky Mountain Population was 19,523, which was similar to the previous year’s estimate of 18,803. The 3-year average for 2001-2003 is 18,295, which is within established population objectives of 17,000 - 21,000. Hunting seasons during 2003-04 in portions of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, resulted in a harvest of 528 cranes, a 17% decrease from the harvest of 639 the year before.