Kentucky’s second sandhill crane hunting season is officially over. This year hunters killed 92 birds—42 more than last year.
Most of the birds killed were in Hardin and Barren counties on private land. No more than 400 birds could be hunted during the season, and the actual amount taken didn’t come even close to that. But Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Migratory Bird Specialist Rocky Pritchert says the department is counting the season as a success.
“We knew that the likelihood of reaching that maximum permissible harvest was very unlikely,” he said. “Initially in our in-house discussions, we thought we may be harvesting between 100-200 birds under this current scenario.”
Three hundred and thirty-two hunters were given permits this year. Pritchert says sandhill cranes are difficult to hunt, and bagging one takes some practice.
There are about 84,000 birds in the eastern population of sandhill cranes, and the population would have to fall to about 30,000 before Kentucky cancels the planned three years of hunting. The state has said the birds are in demand because of their tasty meat. But the hunt was fought by conservation groups that argued there was no reason to hunt the birds, which aren’t overpopulated and don’t cause any environmental damage.