Conservation and Environmental Issues
Climate Watch Program
The Grand Rapids Audubon Club is in the process of becoming an active participant in the Climate Watch Program which is sponsored by the Audubon Society. This a new community service program that explores how North American birds are responding to climate change. Bird enthusiasts can now observe birds in a designated area(s) using a specific protocol to aid Audubon in learning how birds are adapting to climate change. There are two periods for observation: January 15 to February 15 and May 15 to June 15. In order to effectively participate GRAC will need at least ten individuals to observe specific birds in the designated locations. If you are interested in participating, please contact Katie Bolt at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandhill Crane Hunting in Michigan
On October 11, 2017, the House Natural Resources Committee voted 5 to 4 to pass House Resolution (HR) 154, which encourages the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to open a recreational Sandhill Crane hunting season. In the hearing, Representatives Christine Grieg, Stephanie Chang, William Sowerby, and David Maturen voted “no” on this ill-advised resolution, while Representatives Gary Howell, Beau LaFave, Joseph Bellino, Daire Rendon, and Curt VanderWall voted “yes.”
HR 154 was then sent to the House floor, where it was adopted by a quick voice vote on October 18. A roll call is not usually taken for voice votes, so please ask your Representative (find your Representative here) how she or he voted on HR 154 (and please let us know what you find out, by emailing us at email@example.com). A Senate version of the resolution could also be introduced, although it is not necessary.
Yes, this is discouraging, but: Please note that HR 154 is a non-binding resolution, and does not actually authorize a Sandhill Crane hunting season. It is simply Michigan legislators signaling to the NRC that the hunting lobby supports the recreational hunting of our state’s Sandhill Cranes. So, with that in mind we must now turn all of our focus to the NRC! Regardless of the House adopting HR 154, it is still up to the NRC to decide whether it wants to designate Sandhill Cranes as a game species, and then seek authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (since Sandhill Cranes are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act) to open a hunting season on them. Members of the Songbird Protection Coalition will now be attending all NRC meetings, to speak during the public comment period in opposition to the proposed hunting of Michigan’s Sandhill Cranes—even if that item has not yet appeared on the agenda for that day. If you would like to attend the next NRC meeting on Thursday, November 9 at the MSU Diagnostic Center and speak during the public comment period in defense of Sandhill Cranes please let us know at the E-mail address above.
Links to Articles of Interest