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Farmers complain about sandhill cranes

MANITOWOC, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Farmers in Manitowoc County are having trouble with sandhill cranes. Chad Staudinger of Reedsville said he lost $90,000, after cranes kept digging up soil to eat the corn seeds he repeatedly planted. At least some farmers are making the case for a crane hunt, which attracted lots of criticism from environmentalists when Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc first proposed it a year ago. The bill never went anywhere, and no such bill has been introduced in the current session. Staudinger said he believes more farmers are now in favor of a crane hunt.

Jim Knickelbine, who heads the Woodland Dunes Nature Center at Two Rivers, said almost 400 cranes were counted in Manitowoc County a year ago. He said they normally visit each spring to eat farmers’ corn seeds. Farmers with agricultural damage can get permits to shoot the cranes on their land, but they have to prove that they’ve taken other steps to keep the birds away.

Staudinger now uses a solution to make the corn seeds unappealing to the cranes. He says the treatment is really expensive, at 30-dollars an acre.