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.
*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.
Ron Klataske Executive Director Audubon of Kansas 210 Southwind Place Manhattan KS 66503 785-537-4385 <prairie...>