Wednesday, January 19, 2011


As you may imagine; this proposed crane hunt is an irritating issue to me.   TWRA commission will vote whether to have the hunt or not tomorrow, Thursday January 20, 2011.  I can guarantee the hunt will be sanctioned.  You know my position in this issue.  I am new to this state, 7 years, and I'm still feeling my way around the political arena and trying to figure out who does what and is responsible for which laws that govern our wildlife.  I had focused my full attention on (TWRC) Tennessee Wildlife Resource Commission and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), the agency responsible for upholding resource law.  TWRC dictates what TWRA can and can not do.  Now, however, another player comes to light;  The Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF).  I am finding out that the TWF has been pushing TWRA to have a sandhill crane hunt for years.  The TWF has not even surfaced in any discussions I have heard about this hunting proposal.  All comments by me and others have been directed solely toward TWRC and TWRA.  The mission statement of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation is:

Our mission is to champion the conservation, sound management and enjoyment of Tennessee's wildlife and natural resources for current and future generations through stewardship, advocacy and education.
Guess what;  they are a hunters advocacy group that carries the political backing of the state.  Don't believe me?  Check out the link below and count how many times the word hunter or hunting is written.  Then look for the term non hunter:

Out of the left side of their mouth they talk about stewardship, education and the how to preserve, control and promote wildlife.  There's even a cute wildlife license plate available for purchase.  The other corner of the mouth is all about hunting.  "There's even a hunting for the hungry program."  It seems there are an endless stream of reasons to hunt (kill) animals than there are to just let them be and enjoy them.  Read that site.  This agency is the biggie that carries the weight and makes the hunting recommendations.  They apply the pressure to the regulating state agencies.

Why am I bringing this all up at this late date?  Because people need to be aware of what's going on with their wildlife.  I know I'm not making any friends in the hunting community here but, the situation is what it is and it's very one sided.  This brings me to an observation.  The fact that the unawareness of the TWF has not even entered into the hunting proposal equation indicates that the citizens of Tennessee are not informed.  Look;  TWF pushes the TWRC for a crane hunt;  TWRC puts it on TWRA's table to prepare a plan and arrive at an implementation date;  the hunt has the go ahead from TRF, TWRC, TWRA and the vote is tomorrow.  Believe me when I say TWRA knew this hunt would occur at it's inception regardless of opposition to it.   What has the opposition done to confront the issue?  We send letters to the TWRA commissioners and later to the TWRC commission.  A few letters have been sent to the sitting governor and also to the incumbent governor.  A very few of us have written a couple newspapers stating opposition to the proposed hunt.  Mostly though;  we whine, cry and scream "What a shame to kill a crane."   Some well informed birders and professional ornithologists in the group of non hunters have submitted impassioned pleas for the cranes and have even stated alternative means of controlling the populations at Hiwassi.   It won't work.  When the Chairman of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation makes the statement "if things are good table fare, we hunt them.", there is not much hope of overthrowing this crane hunt.  Chairman Mike Butler made that comment.  My final analysis is as follows and, it is nothing new if you've been reading my blog or articles concerning this proposed crane hunt:

Everything I have written above is a strong indicator that the citizens of Tennessee are not an informed citizenry when it comes to wildlife issues.  If they were;  this crane hunt would have been an issue with non hunters long before it progressed to the stage of public awareness when it did.  Remember this;  the sandhill cranes belong to everyone in Tennessee, not just those who enjoy or prefer hunting as a measure of controlling population.  It seems that every agency assigned stewardship of our wildlife does indeed prefer hunting as "the" control measure.   It all comes down to the dollar.  Unfortunately, that is the case in these times.  Tennessee has an opportunity here to change the face of the public's interaction with wildlife agencies and hunters.  Non hunters need to:

1.   Act as a unified group under leadership.  The leadership could be bird clubs keeping the finger on the pulse of political action.  Communicate between clubs and stay abreast of activities within the state that affect wildlife and birds especially.  Print letters in newspapers raising awareness to unpopular issues concerning birds and wildlife.

2.   Watch this Tennessee Wildlife Federation closely and monitor their web site.  They are often times the catalyst for unpopular wildlife mandates.  Go public through newspapers when wildlife, habitat and birds are threatened by inappropriate hunting activities.

3.   Non hunters have got to find a way to contribute to the TWRA.  It must happen.  This is mandatory!  I know it is a distasteful idea with non hunters to supply funds to an agency that supports hunting.  THINK!  Look at the big picture.  If every concerned non hunter pays exactly the cost of a hunting license to TWRA they will instantly be counted.  Here's how:
A box will be supplied on the hunting license to be checked off by the non hunter.  The box could be simply called non hunter.  The fee for the license collected.  Many things happen after one season.  TWRA realizes a landslide in income.  TWRA now counts the non hunters contributions and compares it with the hunter's contribution.  Whoa!  "whats this, they say?"   More non hunters have purchased licenses than did hunters.  I'll bet at least the sales would be half and half in the worse scenario.  Now what?

Now, the non hunters are counted, their revenue is counted and they have a very powerful say in the operations that affect wildlife in the state.  Not only will the birding community benefit but, the mammals, wildlife restoration projects, wetlands and all other programs affecting wildlife will have the interaction and/or intervention of the non hunting community.  Also, public professionals could now be brought into table discussions pertaining to the hunting of certain species.  No longer would the state run agencies have the only say about how our wildlife should be manipulated.  It's a win situation for non hunters.  All we have to do is get over the idea that by buying a hunting license is funding hunting.   The big picture must be viewed here.

My last comment is this:   I still have not seen this so called "for and against" count concerning the proposed hunt.  I heard a comment yesterday that the fore's and against were about even.  I'm not sure where these numbers come from.  But, I say this;  if it's that close than shame on every concerned person in the state that has not written or called the commissioners of TWRC or TWRA  in opposition to this proposed hunt.  There should not be any close vote.  The non hunting faction of this state far outnumbers hunters.  A close count between the two indicates a lackadaisical, sit back and watch attitude by non hunters.  If it is the case, then you have helped the destruction of every sandhill crane that plummets dead to earth.   I'll say no more about this issue.

Please visit the following link to learn more.  The site is operated by a very informed nationally known writer.  She speaks loudly for the cranes: