Crane problems: The number of sandhill cranes in Tennessee has grown so large as to cause problems with crops and other wildlife, which could be a factor in the ongoing debate about starting a hunting season for them.
“The Hiawassee Refuge (near Chattanooga) was designed for ducks and geese, but during the last two decades the cranes have taken over,” says TWRA spokesman Don Hicks. “They consume the corn there before the ducks and geese fly through on their migratory routes.”
Hicks says “at our peak survey counts, we’ve had as many as 70,000 sandhill cranes at Hiwassee, with a current average of 22,000 per day, which is a very significant increase. With the cranes also increasing in West Tennessee, we’re receiving increased complaints about crop damage outside refuge areas.”
State wildlife management officials are considering allowing limited hunting of sandhills – as is already done in a dozen other states – but the measure is opposed by bird-watchers and anti-hunting groups.
Hicks says any hunting season for sandhills “would be very controlled and very limited. It won’t be a bunch of rednecks driving around and firing at the birds from the back of their pickups. There would be no hunting in the two protected refuge areas. Hunters would have to get permission from individual land owners.”
More cranes: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced its support of a 60-day crane season in Tennessee next year. The 60-day hunt would be limited to a set number of permit-holders, a limited number of birds could be taken, and no hunting would be allowed on the Hiawassee Refuge.
The national wildlife agency based its recommendation on the fact that identical hunts have been held in numerous other states with no adverse effect on the sandhill population, as well as the fact that the migrating birds have become so numerous in Tennessee as to pose problems to other wildlife and farm crops.
Trap shoot: Tim Whitlock hit 49 of 50 shots to win the Sub-Junior competition last week at the Cedar City Gun Club. K.J. Davis won Junior honors with a 41.
Hunter-safety reminder: With the fall hunting seasons at hand, the TWRA reminds residents that anyone born after Jan.1, 1969, must complete a Hunter Education Course in order to get a license.
Information about various license requirements and options is available at the TWRA website.
Aug. 24-Feb. 28: squirrel season
Sept. 1-26: dove season first segment
Sept. 28-Oct. 25: deer archery season
Oct. 12-25: fall turkey season
Nov. 2-Feb. 28: rabbit, quail season
Nov. 9-22: muzzleloader season
Nov. 23-Jan. 5: deer gun season
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