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Annual conservation hearings Monday night will feature sand-hill crane hunt debate


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin sporting enthusiasts will give their opinions on over 90 issues Monday night at the state’s annual conservation hearings to be held in each county.

One of the more controversial items involves a proposed hunting season for sandhill cranes.

Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc proposed a bill late in the recent legislative session to allow a crane hunt. But bird lovers objected, and the proposal went nowhere.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress says the issue deserves a public airing. Monday night’s vote is only advisory.

The state’s sandhill crane population has grown to about 25,000. And more farmers are complaining that the large birds are eating their corn crops. 55 permits were given to landowners in southern Wisconsin last year to kill the cranes – up from 16 permits just three years before.

The Badger State is the home of the International Crane Foundation. And while the group is neutral on a hunting season, it says it won’t do anything to reduce crop damage.

Bird lovers agree, and say farmers should treat their crops with a repellent the Crane Foundation developed.

But Paul Zimmerman of the state’s Farm Bureau says it will only move the cranes to fields that are not treated. He says a crane hunt would control the population and provide another recreational opportunity.