Agriculture group to lobby for open hunting season for sandhill cranes

MINDEMOYA—The Manitoulin-North Shore Ontario Federation of Agriculture (MNSOFA) is calling for a licence to hunt sandhill cranes as being part of the current provincial duck hunting licence in the province due to the significant number of the birds on Manitoulin and the damage they are doing to farmers’ crops and fields.

“A farmer was asking me a couple of weeks ago that with the number sandhill cranes around, why a sticker couldn’t be attached to a hunter’s duck licence on Manitoulin Island to hunt S2

Sandhill cranes,” said Rick Campbell, a member of the MNSOFA, at the group’s annual general meeting in Mindemoya on Friday of last week.

“It seems feasible the MNR would make money on this extra licence and the farmers would be happy because we could do something with the nuisance sandhill cranes,” said Mr. Campbell.

“This should also be expanded to the North Shore as well,” said one member of the meeting.

“They’re already considered a game bird in Manitoba and other provinces,” pointed out Charlie Smith.

This issue was raised at another local group’s meeting earlier this fall. “Something I would like to see our club get started is (lobbying) for a hunt season for sandhill cranes on Manitoulin Island,” said Bill Reich, a member of the Gore Bay Fish and Game Club at a recent meeting. “I know of at least one farmer said that flocks of hundreds of sandhill cranes were at his farm this year, eating the grain.”

“I definitely think there is a big enough population of sandhills on the Island,” stated Mr. Reich.

Studies that have been carried out on Manitoulin Island show that the populations on Manitoulin Island during the breeding season in early July is about 200-300. However, as a staging site in the fall, between 12,000-15,000 sandhill cranes will visit Manitoulin and neighbouring areas during the migratory season.

At the MNSOFA meeting last week, the group passed a motion to bring the issue and motion forward at the OFA board convention this fall, lobbying for an additional sandhill crane licence to be tied with the duck licence for specified areas of the province.