Advocates push for more sandhill crane protections in south Brevard County

MALABAR, Fla. – A photographer who regularly documents sandhill cranes is bringing forward ideas to protect the large birds following the death of two cranes, which orphaned a chick.

Lloyd Behrendt has a global following for a half-century of photographing rocket launches, and in a marsh off a dirt road called Gator Way, he also loves taking pictures of sandhill cranes.

"It's pretty cool because they stick their heads up and they're like little periscopes," Behrendt said while watching two adult cranes and a baby.

Lloyd photographed the 1-month-old female with the adults watching out for now after her parents were run over two weeks ago.

Authorities said the unknown driver on Malabar Road never stopped.

Behrendt said adult cranes and chicks have died this way for years.

"You get really sad about it," he said. "I've had a pair of sandhills out here in this marsh for 10 years that have been my buddies and I've watched them raise about eight or ten chicks and lose about five or six."

Monday night at Town Hall, Behrendt, who years ago sat on the council himself, will speak in support of putting sandhill crane crossing signs on Malabar Road.

Behrendt is thinking of starting a GoFundMe page to raise the money, including for cameras.
He also supports ticketing drivers who hit and kill a crane.

"It's beyond me how somebody can hit a crane that's five feet tall, especially when there's two of them, and the only thing I can think is that they're just not paying attention," Behrendt said.

It's unclear if the town could pass an ordinance because the cranes are already protected by the state. Supporters said Monday night's meeting is about getting people to be aware and to slow down.

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