Management for migratory birds at an ecosystem scale requires forming cooperative partnerships with the private sector. To be effective, however, wildlife managers must understand the economic and social attitudes of private landowners to ensure that strategies involving stakeholders are viable and can be implemented. We documented attitudes of farmers in the San Luis Valley (SLV) of Colorado toward Rocky Mountain Population greater sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) using a self administered, mail-back survey. Overall response rate was 46.7%. Viewing sandhill cranes in the SLV was considered somewhat important or important by 78.6% of respondents. In contrast, only 62.1% of respondents indicated that viewing sandhill cranes was somewhat important or important on their own land. Farmers' attitudes toward viewing sandhill cranes on their own property were related (P=0.02) to perceived conflicts with crop production. The extent of crane use (P=0.04) was the only variable we tested that predicted whether conflicts were reported. Our results suggest that partnerships between farmers and natural resource agencies concerned with management of sandhill cranes may be viable. However, the role of farmers in any proposed management strategy must be examined carefully because there may be an upper limit of crane use on private land that farmers will tolerate.
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Agricultural producers' perceptions of sandhill cranes in the San Luis Valley of Colorado