Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RESPECT FOR SANDHILL CRANES

 When I started this blog my intent was to document my wanderings on the lakes and through the mountains of Tennessee, primarily as a convenient way of recording events for my personal use.  While doing so I could share the sights of nature with others and comment on my ramblings in the hopes that others may derive a small bit of information about the wild places and animals they live near.  I never intended it to be a forum where I could vent emotional feelings toward anything or anyone.  But I find that the things I hold near and dear to me are being constantly threatened in one way or another and I just can't shut up about it.  The last blog entry is an example.  The story of Guns and Church is my way of showing another side to an issue that has much attention these days.  A comment by a radio talk show host instigated that little piece.  Now;  here I go again.  This blog is supposed to document my wanderings through the wilds of Tennessee and North Carolina;  not answering ignorant newspaper articles and defending the defenseless.

  But, here I go again.  Please copy paste or click on the link below and read the comments Mr. Sam Venable, who writes a column for the Knoxville News Sentinel, has to say about sandhill cranes.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/jan/28/sam-venable-go-get-these-guys-any-cost/?partner=RSS

Mr.  Venable has been writing for the Sentinel for quite some time and has a large following of sportsmen who read his column religiously.  He is an outdoor writer of sorts and I'm sure a nice fellow.  I used to like to read articles created by such people.  I always thought them to have the inside scoop on wildlife and I just knew I could count on their information as gospel or, at least as accurate as they could possibly report it.  But, I am finding their journalism leaving an awful lot to be desired.  Mr Venable is a great person and an honorable guy I'm sure, and this little rant is in no way intended to dishonor him.  This little rant of mine is more of an observation I want to put into print.

I notice, in the topic of sandhill cranes, that not one outdoor writer speaks of the beauty and grace of this bird.  Not one espouses its virtues and value to the citizens of the state.  Not one mentions the turmoil that the crane has endured on the road back from near extinction.  Not one mentions anything about the sentiment of the general public concerning the sandhill's future in Tennessee.  I do, however, read about all the reasons why the sandhill should be hunted and shot.  I read how, all of a sudden it tastes better than steak.

Mr. Venable relates in his article that a Mr. C.E. Gillham, the author (of what he does not say), found sandhills quite difficult to decoy.  Mr. Gillham states that he hunted several days before bagging one and then he reported it was among the finest tasting meats to ever grace his table.  Let me comment on the previous paragraph.  Mr. Venable is printing what someone said, who knows how many years ago.  It's a "he said, she said" statement and means absolutely nothing.   What good is printing speculation?  The reader comes away from that paragraph knowing absolutely nothing accept what Mr. Venable said somebody else said years ago.  I personally have been told that sandhill crane meat tastes terrible without seasoning and there isn't enough meat on one to make it worth hunting.  There.  That's what I heard.  Who do you want to believe?  Have you learned anything yet?  I thought not.  Let's go on.  It gets better.  I might add here that Mr Gillham either was a novice hunter or didn't have the insight to look skyward for cranes to shoot.  I'm not sure what years he hunted them.  It must have been long ago or in another state because he wouldn't be hunting them in Tennessee because they're protected----so far.  If he hunted them eighteen years ago;  shame on him because they were nearly extinct.  There probably weren't enough cranes to notice his decoy.  Speculation?  Yes....Learn anything yet?   No....

Mr. Gillham makes further statements.  He says; "A crane is not a great blue heron, a shitepoke, or any of the other leggy, fish-eating herons commonly called cranes."  It is about as closely related to them as a horse is to a sheep.  The sandhill crane is smart as a goose, larger than many of the honking species and almost as good to eat as a wild turkey.  In fact. 102 years ago, a man named Heermann reported that when turkeys were scarce, sandhill cranes brought $16 to $18 dollars apiece on the San Francisco market."  Just my comment here but, if the sandhills made it to the San Francisco market and sold at that price; it's no wonder they were driven to near extinction.  But, again "he said she said."  By the way;  the crane in the front below is a Whooping Crane.  The rear bird is a Sandhill Crane:  There;  you did finally learn something.   Oh;  to set the record straight;  a crane isn't larger than a goose.  The term larger is vague.  Cranes are taller but, not larger.  Make sense?  I thought not.
While we're looking at pictures;  lets throw a Great Blue Heron up here.  It is below:

The heron has attributes similar to the crane, yet different.  The crane and the heron share much the same dynamics when it comes to flight. 

Anyway I've learned that 102 years ago some guy named Heerman reported to someone that cranes taste good as turkeys and on and on.  Here's my point:

For some reason, and it's not scientific, the sandhill crane has suddenly been sought after by the hunting factions in Tennessee to become the newest hunting target on the already long list of hunted animals. I sincerely believe that public outrage and the intervention of wildlife professionals from the community are the primary factors that saved the crane from target status this year and for the next two years.   As I reflect back on the recent struggle to gain reprieve for the crane;  I envision a court room with the defense attorney sitting beside the crane and the prosecutor making his case before the judge against the plaintiff, the sandhill crane.  At the end of the day;  there is not enough evidence to convict and the crane goes free.  Justice has been served.  The innocent is cleared of any wrong doing.  See how my mind works?

The comment at the end of Mr. Venable's piece was also cute.  Read it yourself after clicking the link.

But, one thing bothered me about the column's content.  Mr. Venable states "Perhaps when the notion of a Tennessee season is revisited in 2013, someone should photocopy this story."  "This story" refers to what Mr. Gillham wrote about the cranes.

It sounds as though Mr. Venable has decided the cranes should be hunted in Tennessee without actually stating so.  To that statement I say;  "take a position sir, and stand behind it."

Here's what I think, if anyone cares.  Journalism such as this is an abomination.  The sad thing about it is that the writer has a guaranteed space in a popular newspaper and can write anything he wants or feels as long as it's popular with the majority of his readers. In the case of Sam Venable;  he is a pro hunter.  Again, I will point out that I haven't found an article related to hunting that describes the sandhill crane as a noble bird that has made a fantastic comeback from near annihilation.  There isn't any mention of the bird's merits other than it should be hunted.  If one stops and thinks a bit;  there is no way a pro hunter could present the facts about the sandhill and describe it's elegance and return from near extinction, and turn around in the same article and justify killing it.  Therefore,  any newspaper column directed toward the hunting community will be designed to energize opinions in favor of hunting and killing them.  Hunters are the primary readers of outdoor columns.  These writers are considered "outdoor writers."   In reality the material in the columns are constructed to hold the interest of hunters.   I could go on and on.  You already know I'm against shooting this magnificent creature.  Oh;  one fact;  hunting has declined by 30% over the past very recent years.  This means income revenue is down----a bunch.  What happens when it drops even lower?  Agencies in charge of our wildlife need to start listening to folks that do not elect to carry a gun afield.  There-in lies the future of these agencies.  Courting only hunters will lead to disaster in the not too distance future.  It's time TWRA reads the fine print in natures newspapers because there are loud voices espressing other opinions about how the states wildlife should be managed.

Again I say the News Sentinel has printed journalism that is bad and I'll stand by that statement.  If anyone from that paper, including Mr. Venable, wishes to discuss why the cranes should not be hunted;  I'll gladly explain.  I am well versed in the history of the sandhills as they exist in Tennessee.  And, if any writer wishes to take me on in print;  so be it.  I am not a dolt with a pen and will gladly entertain any outdoor writer who wishes to test my fortitude and knowledge about the subject.  I guarantee you one thing.  I will print facts;  not hear say.........

Give the cranes a break.  Let them rest.  It's over for two more years.  Then, if you wish;  we can play dueling paragraphs if you like....I have the time....Oh;  if the Sentinel reads this;   Would you like to have an outdoor writer on your staff who truly spends 90% of his time in the wilderness areas of Tennessee?  I can guarantee you great stories.  Great stories!!  And I'm not expensive..... Until next time;  be kind to a dog....Please