Must we shoot every creature that takes wing?

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“Save the neck for me, Clark,” Cousin Eddie requests of his host, Clark Griswald, in the movie “Christmas Vacation.”
Christmas dinner at the Griswalds’ could change drastically if TWRA issues the 733 hunting permits for the regal birds which are supposed to be “good table fare” according to the executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.
Cousin Eddie would need a plate at least 2 feet across to accommodate this tall bird’s neck. Drumsticks would require equal space.
Clark would be able to take three cranes on his permit, as would every other holder of the 733 permits proposed. That would total 2,199 birds to be blasted from the sky over the refuges in a ball of feathers, blood and body parts.
We need this?
We need to ”harvest” every beautiful creature we have with our high-tech semi-automatic weapons? Shame on us all if we do this thing!
Is the Tennessee hunting class so depraved that they need yet another species to terrorize? These magnificent 5-foot-tall birds will be doomed to arrive over their feeding grounds, hungry, thirsty and exhausted after migrating for hundreds of miles only to be met by a cloud of high-velocity steel shot from shooters hidden in blinds as they approach the ground.
Is that fair? Is no wild thing sacred to the hunter class? Are not the rabbits, squirrels, doves, quail, geese, ducks, wild turkeys, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, moose and bears enough to satiate their blood lust and fill their trophy rooms?
Does the carnivorous crowd need still more victims, or do they just need more protein in their diets?
The Associated Press article in the Jan. 15 News Sentinel presents arguments for and against the idea of slaughtering the beautiful creatures that bring throngs of “birders” to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge.
These cranes fly over us each migration season on their way to their wintering and feeding grounds.
Perhaps you have observed their formations high in the sky and heard their calls.
They belong up there; not on Cousin Eddie’s plate!
BJ Gillum

Editor’s note: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission decided last week to put off any decision on sandhill crane hunting for two years, citing insufficient data for establishing a season and strong opposition. More studies will be done until then.