Sandhill Crane Crippling Loss Rate
The degree of inaccuracy in the annual sandhill crane hunt is significant. Biologists note long-term studies cannot be relied upon or of any use consistent with scientific research standards or basic principles of sound science - there simply are no reliable or consistent long-term population status reports and some studies are noted as introducing bias.
"Unofficial reports suggest that the unretrieved birds, which are crippled by hunters and left to die, may number at least 15 percent of the retrieved kill, which are those birds comprising a hunter's legal quota. Hence, sandhill cranes that are taken by the gun each autumn may approach 35,000 birds. One would question the sustainability of these numbers" (Cranes: A Natural History of a Bird in Crisis, by Janice M. Hughes).
Because toxic lead shot is used to hunt sandhill cranes, raptorial birds (including falcons, hawks, eagles, and owls) and other wildlife (scavengers and carnivorous mammals) who eat downed cranes whose tissues are embedded with shot, die as a result of secondary poisoning. Ingestion of spent lead shot is recognized as a significant problem due to the harmful toxic effects and high mortality rate among victims.
Sources: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, Cranes: A Natural History of a Bird in Crisis by Janice M. Hughes.
Songbird Protection Coalition