The Christian Science Monitor

As bird lovers rejoice the sandhill crane's return, hunters eye the 'ribeye of the sky'

Lisa Johnson has spent her life coaxing corn, soybeans, and “potato chip potatoes” out of the ground in rural Montcalm County, Mich. In the past couple years however, her job has become considerably harder as her crops have faced a new threat: sandhill cranes.

The sandhill crane, a tall, migratory species known for its striking crimson forehead and rattling cry, was once nearly extinct in Michigan but has surged in recent years. Local bird watchers flock to Michigan wetlands to catch a glimpse of the majestic birds gathering in hundreds, even thousands, to breed.

But from Ms. Johnson’s perspective, the lanky birds have become “a pest.” And she’s not the only one who thinks so.

In the kind of clash between conservation and economic interests that’s become familiar across the country, Michigan’s new abundance of sandhill cranes has excited environmentalists and birdwatchers but also agitated farmers, who complain the birds

A familiar quarrelA conservation success storyHunters to the rescue?A loose conceptAnother way?

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