These birds were once a threatened species in the state of Wisconsin, but conservation and recovery efforts have brought the population back in the state. However, one problem has come up with the increased number of birds: crop damage.

Sandhill Cranes Rebounding In Wisconsin

The Sand Hill Crane's recovery has happened mostly in agricultural and wetland areas. Farmers have taken a lead role in supporting cranes, but that comes with a cost.

Sandhill cranes do a lot of good for farmers. They eat pests, earthworms, and waste grain which is beneficial to farmers. But, in the spring there becomes an issue.

The challenge with Sandhill Cranes and Farming

Sandhill Cranes feed on germinating corn seeds right after planting. This causes significant damage to crops, and each year Wisconsin Farmers report about a million dollars in field corn losses. Other birds like blackbirds and pheasants also add to the issue.

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Hunting 'The Ribeyes Of The Sky' Has Been Brought Up

It's been talked about in the state and in the government about introducing a Sandhill Crane hunting season to help mitigate the crop damage they cause. Sanhill Cranes are called 'The Ribeye Of The Sky' by some hunters because of how good they taste. Some say they are the best-tasting migratory bird. (They winter in Florida).

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International Crane Foundation Shares Survey That Says Hunting Isn't The Answer

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) teamed up with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies to research if hunting is a viable solution.

Related: 12 Animals You Can Hunt Year-round in Minnesota

According to their findings, only 17.4 percent of Wisconsinites support a crane hunting season, and less than 5% said they would participate in the hunting season. The money generated from license sales would be roughly $10,000. The money would be used to offset the damage done by the birds to Wisconsin farmers' crops. But $10,000 doesn't put much of a dent in the nearly $1 million worth of damage done each year.

Other deterrent options are available

The ICF developed a non-toxic chemical deterrent Avipel that farmers can treat their corn seed with to reduce crop damage done by birds. It's costly for farmers, though and difficult to use. They suggest that big agriculture companies need to sell treated corn seed to help farmers.

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Gallery Credit: Dom DiFurio & Jacob Osborn