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Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)

There is a fall hunting season for lesser sandhill cranes in Alaska, which corresponds with the regular waterfowl season. Cranes are harvested conservatively because these long-lived birds have a naturally low reproductive rate. There is some potential for depredations on agricultural crops, particularly on grain and vegetable crops on the wintering grounds. Occasionally cranes damage rice field levees while burrowing for invertebrates, and local destruction of lettuce and other leaf crops can occur. Habitat conservation measures are becoming more critical to protect the migration stopovers and local roosting areas of cranes. These long-distance migrants need their traditional resting sites in certain kinds of wetlands and on the sandbars of major rivers, but habitat alteration and human disturbance is encroaching on these special sites. Beyond economic considerations, cranes are highly valued birds whose spectacular migrations and ancient manners provide a rare treat to people across North America.