Neighbors outraged after Portage police kill problem Sandhill Crane

PORTAGE (WKOW) — Portage police, with approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, killed a Sandhill Crane in the city Sunday afternoon.

Officers killed the crane around 4:40 p.m. because the animal damaged several properties in the area of Brittingham Court and Hamilton Street, Portage police said in a press release. The crane would walk up to a car, see its reflection and peck at the reflection — causing damage to the car.

“The Portage Police Department and local residents have attempted numerous non-lethal methods to deter the crane from causing damage, all of which have been exhausted and unsuccessful,” police said.

Police say they had been receiving complaints about the crane for nearly four years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the Portage Police Department a permit to kill two Sandhill Cranes in that neighborhood between April 29, 2019 and March 31, 2020.

The problem crane was killed Sunday, and Chief Ken Manthey says there are no plans to kill any other cranes.

Neighbors, however, are unhappy with how the situation was handled. Several houses line the field and park where the crane was shot twice.

Several neighbors tell 27 News they enjoyed seeing the cranes despite the damage.

“Even though I have incurred over $200 worth of costs, this is the crane’s habitat,” resident Stas Urban said. “I don’t feel they should have been messed with.”

Jamie Gohde says several neighborhood children watched as the crane was killed.

“Obviously, we want to move forward together and be able to resolve this in a way that works out for everyone,” she said. “We need a better outcome than what happened here. And to have the officer shooting in a park where there are children — my daughter is now afraid of the police.”

Chief Manthey says officers are trained to use proper safety protocol when dispatching animals.

“The officers are trained to be looking downwind, so-to-speak, or be checking to make sure that no one was in the area,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to put anyone at risk.”

Doug Iverson says he tried to negotiate a non-lethal solution with the officers before they shot the crane.

“I said, ‘It’s not suffering.’ He said, ‘It doesn’t matter. It was damaging vehicles. We can put it down for that,'” Iverson recounted. “I said, ‘Give me two days. I’ll find a zoo, and we can catch it and give it to a zoo,’ and he said, ‘We’re not catching it.’ And I said, ‘I’ll catch it.'”

Chief Manthey says he’s reviewing the entire situation.

“So there’s two sides,” he said. “You have some people who’re upset the bird was killed, and you have other people that are upset that their property continued to be damaged and they want the bird eliminated. So we’re stuck in the middle with that. We will look at this and see if there was a better way to handle this.”

Sand Hill cranes,according to the UW Extension Office, are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and cannot be killed without a federal permit.

More at WKOW 27 News

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