Alabama to hunt Sandhill Cranes for the first time in 103 years

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Hunters in Alabama have a new choice of game.

Sandhill Cranes can be hunted in the state starting December 3, 2019.

The migratory bird hasn’t been hunted in Alabama since 1916. According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), this is the third state east of the Mississippi River to open the new season.

The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division will conduct the hunt.

“This is the first time in 13 years that we’ve had a new species open to hunting. The last was alligator in 2006. It’s pretty exciting.”

Seth Maddox, WFF Migratory Game Bird Coordinator

Season Information: EXTRA TEST AND LICENSE REQUIRED

  • Opens December 3, 2019, to January 5, 2020.
  • Again from January 16-31, 2020.
  • 400 permit draw hunt
  • Three birds per permit

The WFF says registration for Sandhill Crane season starts in September and will be open for a few weeks. The drawing will be in October.

“If drawn, they will have to take an online test that includes species identification and regulations. Once they pass that test, we will issue the permit and tags. Then they must purchase a federal duck stamp and HIP (Harvest Information Program) license, and if hunting on a WMA (wildlife management area), a WMA license. Once they have all that, they are good to hunt.”

Seth Maddox, WFF Migratory Game Bird Coordinator

For more information and where to buy your 2019-2020 license, click here.

The talk to open the new hunting season began in the early 2000s. Kentucky hosted the first hunt in 2010, Tennessee opened their season in 2013.

“We started counting sandhills in 2010 in conjunction with our aerial waterfowl surveys… Since 2010, we’ve seen a 16% increase on average per year in the state.”

Seth Maddox, WFF Migratory Game Bird Coordinator

The WFF says they have a 3-year plan to hunt Sandhill Cranes. The majority of Sandhill Cranes are found in the Tennessee River Valley with some birds wintering in Weiss Reservoir on the Coosa River.

To see more from the WFF and ADCNR, click here.

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