Date: 11/7/17 2:20 pm
From: Ron Klataske <prairie...>
Subject: Our Precautionary Concerns for Whooping Cranes in Kansas
This email exchange is a reflection of our precautionary concerns for the
welfare of Whooping Cranes while they are in Kansas, recently in
significant abundance. Our concerns relate to both the disturbance while
so many are present, and the (hopefully unlikely) prospect of being
mistakenly shot during the opening of the Sandhill Crane and Snow Goose
seasons tomorrow morning. It appears that we all need to be more proactive
a bit more in advance of difficult decisions by KDWPT. --Ron

To Keith Sexton and Robin Jennison:

As you know, the Sandhill Crane hunting season opens tomorrow at sunrise
(and extends to January 4). Also, as you will note there have been large
numbers of Whooping Cranes at and around the Quivira National Wildlife
Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms as recently as Sunday and yesterday. (See two
emails from the Kansas Bird Listserve below.) In discussions over the years
going back to the first Sandhill Crane hunting season in Kansas and
subsequently following the shooting of three Whooping Cranes near the
Quivira NWR, KDWP officials indicated that the agency would respond with
short-term and targeted area closures in Sandhill Crane hunting when
situations arise that pose an unnecessary threat to Whooping Cranes. It
should be apparent that with large numbers of this endangered species in
the vicinity of these two wetland complexes, often intermingled with
Sandhills Cranes, and with the prospect of mistaken identity--as well as
disturbance alone--there may be a real and unnecessary threat to Whooping
Cranes. And, there is a situation where additional disturbance may be
detrimental. Whooping Cranes need migratory staging areas, places with
refuge from disturbance and an opportunity to feed and rest during their
arduous 2,500 mile fall flight. With shooting hours for Sandhill Cranes
now extended from sunrise to sunset it is difficult for flocks of cranes to
find undisturbed feeding areas in nearby fields. Morning and evening
flights between feeding fields and roosting areas outside of Quivira and
within Cheyenne Bottoms are also subject to crane shooting.

With the above in mind, Audubon of Kansas requests that KDWPT implement a
closure on Sandhill Crane hunting in Stafford and Barton Counties starting
tomorrow morning and extending for an undetermined number of days until the
elevated threat to Whooping Cranes is reduced sufficiently. If crane
shooting is closed for a week, there will remain 50 additional days for
Sandhill Crane hunting in Kansas.

--Ron Klataske

*From Keith Sexton*

Thanks to you both for expressing your concern for the Whooping Crane given
the opening of Sandhill Crane season tomorrow. We are equally concerned
that hunters be aware of the presence of Whoopers. It would be very
difficult for us to communicate and enforce countywide closures for
Sandhill Cranes at this late date. However, staff at Cheyenne Bottoms have
been monitoring the occurrence of Whooping Cranes and closures have been
implemented on the Bottoms when conditions dictated. At the present time
Cheyenne Bottoms is open as it appears that Whooping and Sandhill Cranes
have moved on. But we realize that those conditions can change and
appropriate action will be taken should Whoopers show up there.

In an effort to inform Sandhill Crane hunters of possible occurrence of
Whooping Cranes amongst Sandhills, we are this afternoon sending out emails
to all hunters who have purchased Sandhill Crane permits. I will share
that message with you as soon as it's available. We will also be placing
the information on our Department website which also means it will show up
on the Departments Facebook and that of the Game Wardens.

As you can imagine, with the opening of both the goose and Sandhill Crane
season tomorrow there will be an inordinate number of department law
enforcement staff in the field monitoring hunters and location of crane and
goose populations. It would be our intent, wherever possible, to monitor
locations with known occurrence of Whooping Cranes.

Thanks again for communicating your concern.

--Keith Sexson

Ron Klataske
Executive Director
Audubon of Kansas
210 Southwind Place
Manhattan KS 66503

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