SCHOOLCRAFT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is pushing for charges against a man who allegedly shot at a group of sandhill cranes.
The incident was detailed in the DNR’s biweekly report for Jan. 8 through Jan. 21. The agency received a complaint of a person trying to “illegally harvest” the federally protected birds. Investigators found that the suspect recorded himself on video shooting a .22 caliber rifle from a second-story window into a field across the street.
According to investigators, the birds flew away after the first shot and the suspect continued to fire into the air as the cranes left the area. DNR investigators found there are approximately a dozen homes “within range of his firearm.”
“After multiple interviews and evidence was obtained, numerous violations were found,” the agency detailed in the report. “A report is being submitted to the Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.”
Sandhill cranes are still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which prohibits the capture, killing or possession of sandhill cranes without proper permits. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can issue special permits to harvest cranes that “cause agricultural damage or threaten human health and safety.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the sandhill crane population dropped drastically in the early parts of the 20th century, however, they have rebounded since being placed under federal protection.
Sandhill cranes are migratory birds. They are most commonly found in the southeastern U.S. during the winter, and they fly north to Canada and northern parts of the U.S. Midwest and East Coast for breeding.
The suspect’s identity has not been released because criminal charges have yet to be filed.