Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Holy crap! THIS is sobering!

Sandhill Crane
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
You know how Google puts those context ads on the side of some pages, hoping you'll click? Well, I was helping my Whooping Crane buddy post the previous blog post, and lo and behold there was a link to "Crane Hunting." Oh, man--I thought it was going to be filled with leads on where Whoopers could find blue crabs and where I could hunt for the most succulent tubers. My heart leapt--and I clicked.

Oh, NOOOOOOOOOOO! I felt just like poor Mr. Bill, knocked flat, when I saw what it was linking to. A page with "human" beings (ahem--where DID the word "humane" originate?) each holding not just one, but two or more dead Sandhill Cranes in their grubby paws, killed in what is called a "canned hunt." Every one of those dead birds with some poor widow or widower flying about, utterly bereft, all so people can have what? A photo op showing a bunch of them with way more than they can eat. They looked like the worst sort of rapacious killers--I mean, not even weasels and raccoons kill so many at one time! The advertiser was exulting not in providing a quality experience out of doors with nature and beauty, but a shooting fest where they practically guarantee that hunters will not just get one crane, but get the legal limit, "beverages included."

Human hunters are each allowed by U.S. and Texas law to kill up to three cranes every day, and up to six total. Remind me to stop migrating through Texas!

And you know how they get those cranes? They trick them by using taxidermist "prepared" dead birds to make the living cranes think, "Oh, look--there's George and Martha! Let's go down and say hi!" and BAM! If that isn't desecration of bodies, and for the worst possible reason, I don't know what is.

And don't tell me these people are hunting because they're hungry. They charge $250 per day per person (with a three-person minimum) to do these canned hunts. You could buy an awful lot of free-range, organic chicken for $250! And don't tell me they do it for some splendid outdoor experience. The website says, "While crane hunting our hunters enjoy roomy comfortable A-frame and hay bale blinds."

It's enough to make a grown bird cry. And it's an excellent reminder that when you see those google ads, DON'T click!!!!


Marty said...

I thought that cranes were protected - weren't whooping cranes, in particular, endangered? I have a hard time thinking that most hunters can tell the two apart at the heights that cranes would fly.

But I'm even more appalled by the canned hunt aspect - those aren't hunters, those are asshats with guns.

Sandy Crane said...

Whooping Cranes are indeed endangered by any standards, including the US governments. And this hunt is on the Texas panhandle, so the probability is low, though not non-existant, that a Whooper would be going through. But it still sucks, if you ask me.

Sandy Crane said...

Someone said I shouldn't be picking on hunters--it's not like we cranes don't eat our share of critters ourselves. But we have to work at our living--to actually hunt down our prey. This google ad was for people who don't want to work at it--they want to sit in comfort and let the birds come to them. It's called a canned hunt, and I don't think participants deserve the name "hunter." They're shooters.

Hugh said...

...or you could click on the ad many many times and get your flockmates to click as well. every time you click, money comes out of the hunt operator's budget...

Carmen Raven said...

Now that's a clever concept!

Laura Erickson said...

Sheri Williamson made the excellent points in Facebook that this isn't really a canned hunt (where they're using captive bred birds), and that many hunters would legitimately consider this an honest and reasonable hunt.

But in my mind, even though this is clearly not hurting crane populations (which are actually increasing), it is different from most hunting because 1) cranes mate for life and seem to actually mourn the loss of their mate; 2) a great deal of crane protection and the turn-around from their decline came from funding by birders and environmentalists protecting staging grounds along the Platte River and other areas, and from farmers who tolerate the cranes eating their waste corn. Of course, major protection comes from hunters and wise birders who purchase Duck Stamps, which are responsible for protecting and obtaining new habitat in the National Wildlife Refuges where many crane populations spend a lot of their time.

As Sandy Crane noted, hunting isn't a bad thing. Birds as well as humans kill and eat living animals. But human hunting is no longer a necessary activity for providing food on the table. It is sport. Again, if you've ever watched a Peregrine or Merlin closing in on prey, even a non-hunter can appreciate the exhilaration and sporting nature of hunting. But seeing a bunch of grown men holding up dead birds seems more weaselly than exhilarating, especially because shooting at birds flying over, drawn to professionally created decoys set out by the owners of this hunting retreat, seems the opposite of what a Peregrine does, matching his/her own wits and skills against the prey, not hiring someone to lure in birds.

TR Ryan said...

In Oklahoma you can kill up to six per year. And the cost for the permit to kill six - $3. Tragic on many levels.