By Bob Boucher
Wisconsin, with its’ abundant wetlands, serves as the cradle for the Eastern Sandhill crane to the eastern United States. The recovery of Sandhill cranes in Wisconsin is a remarkable story. Sandhill cranes and other migratory birds were first federally protected to “stop the slaughter” (Flyways, USFW) by the ratified Migratory Bird Treaty Act, (MBTA) in 1918. But it’s enforcement was spotty and its’ implementation greatly relied upon the voluntary restraint of hunters. The draining of wetlands and the continued hunting pushed the birds to the very edge of extinction. In 1935 it is estimated there were fewer than 100 birds in Wisconsin. This moved Aldo Leopold to write, “Marshland Elegy” one of his eloquent essays in “A Sand County Almanac”.
"The sadness discernible in some marshes arises, perhaps, from their once having harbored cranes. Now they stand, adrift in history.” “The ultimate value in these marshes is wildness, and the crane is wildness incarnate.”
About the Author
Bob Boucher has a MS in Water Resource Management from the UW Madison with an emphasis of ecosystem management of watersheds. He has been an environmental advocate for over 40 years and founded the Milwaukee RiverKeeper milwaukeeriverkeeper.org. He has worked on the protection of the Grey Wolf, Sandhill Crane and other species, and is now spreading awareness and advocacy for the vital role of the North American beaver in the Lake Superior watershed. He is a lover of wild places to explore and play in.