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Scum of the Week – S.D. Whooping Crane Poacher

Whooping Cranes

There is NO mistaking the sight of a Whooping Crane standing in a field. Didn't stop one South Dakota redneck from popping one off with a high-powered rifle. (Photo by Larry Johnson - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License)

There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind who my “scum of the week” award is going to.  I had a post about a short birding trip I did Sunday morning, where I was pleasantly surprised to find 3 Sandhill Cranes west of Sioux Falls.  Such beautiful, large, majestic birds, they CERTAINLY stood out as something “unique” that you don’t see in this part of the state that much.

Imagine that same creature, but even larger, and brilliantly white.  That would be a Whooping Crane, and there would be NO doubt that’s what you were looking at, if you saw one standing around.  Well, in South Dakota, there’s a certain percentage of the population that believes it’s their god given right to take a shot at anything that moves.  Near Miller, South Dakota, someone saw a Whooping crane standing in a field, HAD to have known what it was…but decided to get out their high-powered rifle and kill it

Don’t get me started on the “hunting culture” of South Dakota.  YES, there are many hunters who ARE true sportsman. But…just in the past few years during my birding and fishing trips I’ve seen 1) two guys shooting out their pickup windows and killing a bevy of American Coots 2) Two young teen boys being dropped off at a Wildlife Protection Area who proceeded to start shooting all the songbirds they saw, 3) Some complete IDIOT who had wing-shot a goose but didn’t know how to finish it off, so was chasing it through a field, stomping on it and kicking at it 4) Three dead hunting dogs lined up under a tree, shot by…presumably a hunter (out-of-state?) who didn’t need their services any more  5) and fishermen on the Missouri who caught their limit of walleye, left, came back “empty-handed” an hour later, and immediately started to catch their SECOND limit. 

And those are just some of the illegal things.  There are also the hunters that really disgust me, even when they’re doing something that’s legal in this state.  I have zero stomach for people who kill just for the sake of killing.  That is NOT “sport”.  Best example…those who stop in prairie dog towns and just start popping them off, leaving there to rot.  I remember one memorable day when I went to one of my favorite prairie dog towns for birding, and lined up on the fence were three dads and about 6 young boys, all resting their guns on the fence, shooting all the prairie dogs they could see.  Another of my favorites…the local goose “hunters” who ”hunt”  just outside of Arrowhead Park by Sioux Falls, a place where hundreds of VERY tame geese hang out.  Hell, if you wanted to “hunt” them, you wouldn’t need a gun, you’d just have to bring a piece of bread and grab the stupid thing by the neck when it came up for a bite.

Gotta love “sportsmen” like this who think the natural world’s purpose is to satiate their own selfish desires.  As I said, NO, I don’t want to paint all hunters or fishermen in this light.  I’m a fisherman myself and greatly enjoy the resource, and know that most folks ARE law-abiding citizens who appreciate the resource.

But…when I see stories like this jackass who popped off the Whooping Crane with a high-powered rifle, it’s VERY hard for me to remember the ‘good’ sportsmen, and VERY easy for me to remember all of the other horrible sportsmen that I’ve run across.

Congrats, Crane killer…you are hereby awarded a VERY well-deserved “Scum of the Week” award.