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North Dakota is a major fall staging area for the Midcontinent Population of sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis), which is composed of three subspecies: the greater (G. c. tabida), Canadian (G. c. rowani), and lesser (G. c. canadensis). The number of cranes killed by hunters in North Dakota averaged 6,793 during 1990-94 seasons, ranking second highest among crane-hunting states. The distribution of harvest among subspecies is important, due to concerns about the poorly known status of these subspecies, especially the greater. We estimated subspecies composition of the harvest in North Dakota using morphometric data collected from field samples of birds harvested since 1968. Subspecies composition varied both spatially (across counties from east to west) and temporally (among 3 periods of distinct harvest regulations and within season). Lessers predominated in the west and Canadians and greaters in the east. For the 1990-94 period we estimated that mortality due to hunting in North Dakota averaged at least 1,085 (18%) greaters, 2,138 (36%) Canadians, and 2,716 (46%) lessers.
Additional Publication Details
Subspecies composition of sandhill crane harvest in North Dakota, 1968-94