Sandhill Crane Hunting Season Continues Forward Movement

The legal hunting of sandhill cranes in Kentucky has moved another step closer to becoming a reality, but final approval is still pending. 

Earlier this month, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a sandhill crane hunting season in Kentucky.  The season, with a mid-December start, would last for 30 days, or until 400 of the huge, migratory birds have been killed, whichever comes first.

The plan also needs federal approval, and has cleared its first hurdle.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Service Regulations Committee approved the Kentucky hunt proposal, which is considered a three-year, experimental hunting season,” Brian Blank of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources told Kentucky Public Radio.

Blank says the hunt is still months away from final approval on both the state and federal levels.

“The next step is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will publish the regulation in a federal register, for approximately a two-week period, for public comment,” said Blank.  “The public comment period is from July 1st to August 1st.  There would be public hearings, if requested.  They would probably occur between July 21st and July 29th.”

The proposed hunting season regulation also must be weighed by oversight committees of the Kentucky General Assembly.  A hearing on the state regulation  is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., EDT, July 21 at the KDFWR office in Frankfort.

The hunt has strong opposition from numerous environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Kentucky Resources Council and the Kentucky Coalition for Sandhill Cranes.

Sandhill cranes have been legally hunted for years west of the Mississippi River, but this would be the first time in 100 years they could be hunted in the eastern United States.  Kentucky is the first eastern state to seek permission for such hunts. 

Sandhill cranes were nearly hunted into extinction in the early 1900’s, but rebounded through federal protections.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.