To the editor:
The shooting of a breeding pair of whooping cranes by hunters near Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Nov. 7 was a tragic loss for the species. One bird died; one will never fly again. Their chick is wandering the refuge because it has no parents to guide it on the migration route. Of 200 birds in the migratory population, only 100 are successful breeders. Two have now been lost.
Jayhawk Audubon Society is asking the public to prevent more deaths by supporting the total repeal of a sandhill crane hunting season in Kansas.
As a second best alternative the following changes should be made:
1. Start legal sandhill shooting hours at 9 a.m. rather than sunrise. Visibility at sunrise is obviously too poor to allow hunters to distinguish between sandhill and whooping cranes.
2. Open the season in mid-November after most whooping cranes have passed through Kansas.
3. Follow U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommendations to close adjacent hunting lands when whooping cranes are present at the refuge.
Quivira NWR is an absolutely crucial resting and feeding stop for migrating birds.
Please lend your voice to making Kansas a safe haven and true refuge for the beleaguered whooping crane.
Jayhawk Audubon Society