US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Sharp, D.E., J.A. Dubovsky, and K.L. Kruse. 2005. 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.


Annual indices to 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 2005, uncorrected for visibility bias, was 412,000. The photo-corrected 3-year average for 2002-2004 was 363,167, 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 2004-05. About 9,300 hunters participated in these seasons, which was 12% higher than the number that participated in the previous year’s seasons. Hunters harvested 15,124 cranes in the U.S. portion of the Central Flyway during the 2004-05 seasons, which was 18% lower than the estimated harvest for the previous year. The retrieved harvest of Mid-Continent Population sandhill cranes in hunt areas for the Rocky Mountain Population of sandhill cranes (Arizona & New Mexico), Alaska, Canada, and Mexico combined was estimated at 14,528 during 2004-05. The preliminary estimate for the North American sport harvest, including crippling losses, was 33,847, which is 5% lower than the previous year’s estimate of 35,671. The long-term (1982-2004) trends for the Mid-Continent Population indicate that harvests have been increasing at a higher rate than population growth. The fall 2004 pre-migration survey estimate for the Rocky Mountain Population was 18,510, which was 5.5% lower than the previous year’s estimate of 19,523. The 3-year average for 2002-2004 is 18,945, which is within established population objectives of 17,000 - 21,000. Hunting seasons during 2004-05 in portions of Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, resulted in a harvest of 594 cranes, a 13% increase from the harvest of 528 the year before.