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Today, we're thrilled to have a special guest on the show, Anne Lacy, the North American Director of the Eastern Flyway Project at the International Crane Foundation. Get ready for a deep dive into the world of Sandhill cranes, their population dynamics, and the challenges they present. As populations grow, conflicts naturally arise, especially when dealing with federally protected birds like cranes. Anne brings her expertise to the table, shedding light on legal and effective methods of addressing these concerns.
The International Crane Foundation's website, savingcranes.org, provides a wealth of information on their initiatives based in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Stephen recalls his visit to their site and the awe-inspiring experience it was. With that, let's welcome Anne Lacy to the show.
In this episode, Anne shares insights into her journey in the field of crane restoration and protection. Her fascination with birds led her to pursue conservation biology during her graduate studies. After joining the International Crane Foundation, Anne focused on the challenges of crane and crop damage. Since then, she has expanded her expertise to include whooping cranes and prairie restoration. She offers an intriguing peek into the distinction between cranes and similar birds like herons and egrets.
Sandhill cranes are intriguing creatures, with fifteen species found across five continents. Anne dives into the unique characteristics that distinguish cranes from other wading birds. The way they fly, nest, and behave sets them apart. For instance, cranes cannot bend their necks in an 'S' shape like herons, and they predominantly nest on the ground. Anne discusses the global distribution of crane species, revealing that cranes are absent from Antarctica and South America.
The Sandhill crane population has experienced significant changes over time. Anne explains how market hunting and habitat loss led to severe declines in certain areas. Fortunately, efforts such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act helped protect these birds, allowing their populations to recover. She delves into the intriguing history of cranes in Wisconsin and Aldo Leopold's contributions to crane conservation.
As the discussion progresses, Anne gives us insights into Sandhill crane behaviors and their life history. Sandhill cranes are long-lived and territorial breeders. They return to their breeding territories in late February or early March, engaging in territorial disputes with other cranes. Anne provides detailed information on their breeding habits, nesting, and chick rearing. She explains how the predators they face vary according to their life stage.
Anne offers valuable advice for managing Sandhill crane conflicts. For instance, she addresses the challenges faced in Florida, where Sandhill cranes cause damage to lawns and other areas. She explains that scaring devices, visual deterrents, and even dogs may not be entirely effective in deterring cranes. Anne also recommends altering bird feeder placement to reduce spillage, which attracts cranes.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Anne Lacy. And remember, it's not about being the wildlife – it's about living the wildlife. Take care and catch you in the next episode.
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Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE
Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC
Phone: 406-272-5323 Mtn Time
Helping people resolve conflicts with wildlife through teaching, training, writing, and research
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