A couple of weeks ago I typed up another ever-loving Don’t Rush Me column which woke some readers up and pushed them to write. Originally published on July 17, Flying dinosaurs are walking our streets (Click Here to Read) documented my own fascination with what some scientists claim to be the oldest living bird species, having existed for more than 9 million years in their present form — the Sandhill Crane.
Aside from now hearing their primal almost prehistoric calls, I was and two weeks later, I am still amazed with these critters and the sheer numbers of their local populations. Pretty soon, I suspect just like we have Deer, Duck and Turtle crossing signs, we will have Sandhill Crane crossing signs on some of our streets.
I touched upon a failed attempt a couple of years ago to make these birds game birds. Some call ‘em “Ribeye of The Sky” or “Steaks on Stilts.” Because of the earlier Don’t Rush Me column, I learned on April 10 of this year, House Resolution 61 and Senate Resolution 30 were introduced by Rep. Jim Lower (R-Cedar Lake), and Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) — again to make hunting of Sandhill Cranes legal in the Mitten State.
And, here are what some of you readers wrote.
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Hi Don, after your article about these birds, I noticed another article in Saturday, July 27 edition of The Citizen newspaper about them. This time about declaring an open hunting season on those big birds.
That would be about as sporting as an open season on cows at the Cook’s Dairy. Those creatures allow us to come amazingly close to them, much too close for comfort, in my opinion. That big pecker they carry on the front of their head could cause impressive damage upon a human, if they so chose to “engage us” in a dance of conflict.
Have you ever come close enough to a Sandhill Crane to notice that you can see straight through that big slit of their nostrils? I suspect that, like that bird’s see through nostrils, if you got close enough to the people who propose an open season on those birds, you could as well, see straight through their ears without obstruction. Though, admittedly, I haven’t tried same.
“Keep on keep’n on,” Don! — Haley H., Clarkston
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Hello Don: I am a new resident of Groveland and read your column in which you mentioned sandhill cranes. You may not be aware that there is currently a very strong push to declare these birds to be game birds, which would thus make them legal to hunt. You mentioned the same thing happening in 2017, but it is again being considered.
In fact, the Clarkston-area Backyard Birders Club discusses this regularly and will likely do so again at the upcoming meeting on July 31.
Of course the club, along with Michigan Audubon, Michigan Humane Society, etc., is staunchly opposed to this. — Meghan C.
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Your “Flying dinosaurs” column was very sensible. It made the reasonable point that you don’t have to be a bird-watcher or a fan of dinosaur descendants to admire and enjoy our Michigan sandhill cranes or to appreciate their recovery from near extinction.
The ongoing restoration of these stately birds is a true comeback story. They were all but extinct in this state just a few decades ago. But the farsighted and cooperative efforts of naturalists, farmers, true sportsman-like hunters, and others have helped restore the species to a safe level.
To some it would seem ironic that true hunters have been among the most determined protectors of sandhill cranes. That’s because thoughtful hunters know how fragile this ancient bird species is. They also know there is really nothing sporting about slaughtering a standing sandhill crane—that takes no more skill than shooting a hole in STOP sign. Killing a slow-flying crane is as easy as blasting a kid’s floating balloon.
Real hunters know that there has to be a hunt in hunting, not just shooting and killing birds that are often about as tame these days as robins. As for crop damage, any farmer mindful of proven facts and unassailable scientific data knows that any such claims are grossly exaggerated, usually by by those pushing a game season on not only cranes, but also on mourning doves.
Best for Michigan is to have its non-game birds preserved, not added to the list of extinct species. — Bill H.
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Thanks for reading and caring enough to write everybody! Keep on reading and sharing your thoughts. If anybody else wants to chime in on this or any other topic, drop me a line at DontRushDon@gmail.com.