Songbird Protection Coalition

Action Alert 10-6-17

Thank you for speaking up for sandhill cranes in the House Natural Resources Committee on October 4!

HR 154, a non-binding House Resolution urging Michigan’s Natural Resources Commission to begin the process of opening a recreational hunt on sandhill cranes, was heard on Wednesday, October 4 in the House Natural Resources Committee. Thank you SO much to everyone who called, sent emails, or testified in person against HR 154 in the hearing. Concerned citizens and representatives of the Songbird Protection Coalition, Michigan Audubon, Detroit Audubon, the State Bar Animal Law Section, and Attorneys for Animals all spoke eloquently about their objections to a sandhill crane hunt based on scientific, ethical, and conservation concerns. You can watch a recording of the hearing at http://www.house.mi.gov/MHRPublic/PlayVideoArchive.html?video=NATU-100417.mp4.
While the committee did not vote on HR 154 in that hearing, they may do so as soon as next Wednesday, October 11. So we must keep up the pressure on committee members so they know of the overwhelming public opposition to the recreational hunting of our state’s sandhill cranes!
If you have not had a chance yet, please email or call the committee members to let them know your opposition to HR 154. If you can make only one call or email, please contact the Chair, Rep. Gary Howell. But if you have additional time, please try to contact all of the committee members. When you do, you can simply say, “My name is _____________, and I am a Michigan resident. I would like you to vote NO on HR 154, which urges the opening of a recreational hunting season on sandhill cranes. Hunting sandhill cranes would serve no wildlife management purpose, will not protect agriculture crops, and could jeopardize the recovery of these iconic birds in our state. Thank you.”
Other talking points:

  • The recreational hunting of sandhill cranes will not “protect crops” and is not backed by sound science. Non-lethal methods and products already exist to protect certain crops planted near prime wetland habitat from coming into conflict with sandhill cranes, and Michigan farmers can obtain permits to lethally remove individual sandhill cranes when necessary.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has acknowledged a lack of sound scientific evidence that recreational hunting or other lethal means of removing sandhill cranes from nesting habitats near certain crops actually works to reduce conflict. 
  • Sandhill cranes are a vulnerable and recovering species that was nearly wiped out in Michigan by the mid-20th century due to hunting and loss of habitat. Because of sound, scientific non-game conservation policy, Michigan’s breeding population of sandhill cranes has begun to stabilize and level out; opening up sandhill cranes to recreational hunting again could jeopardize that stability and progress that took several decades to accomplish. 
  • Sandhill cranes are worth much more to Michiganders alive than dead. Birdwatching is a major economic driver across the state, and each year thousands of visitors flock to “CraneFest,” a sandhill crane festival in southern Michigan, to view and enjoy this iconic species. What’s more, a new survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that ​wildlife watchers outspend hunters nationwide by nearly 3 to 1.  

Here are the members of the House Natural Resources Committee:
Rep. Gary Howell, Chair: (517) 373-1800, GaryHowell@house.mi.gov (Lapeer County)
Rep. Beau LaFave: (517) 373-0156, BeauLaFave@house.mi.gov (Dickinson, Menominee, and Delta Counties)
Rep. David Maturen: (517) 373-1787, DavidMaturen@house.mi.gov (parts of Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties)
Rep. Joseph Bellino: (517) 373-1530, JosephBellino@house.mi.gov (parts of Monroe County and southern Wayne County)
Rep. Daire Rendon: (517) 373-3817, DaireRendon@house.mi.gov (Crawford, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Counties)
Rep. Curt VanderWall: (517) 373-0825, CurtVanderWall@house.mi.gov (Benzie, Leelanau, Manistee, and Mason Counties)
Rep. William Sowerby, Minority Vice-Chair: (517) 373-0159, WilliamSowerby@house.mi.gov (Clinton Twp., Fraser, Mount Clemens in Macomb County)
Rep. Stephanie Chang: (517) 373-0823, StephanieChang@house.mi.gov (part of Detroit, and Ecorse and River Rouge in Wayne County)
Rep. Christine Greig: (517) 373-1793, ChristineGreig@house.mi.gov (Farmington and Farmington Hills in Oakland County)
Thank you for making the call to protect Michigan's sandhill cranes!