Listed as a game species, many central U.S. states, Canadian provinces, and Mexico have been hunting sandhill cranes for more than 50 years with populations remaining stable or increasing. The sandhill subspecies found in the eastern U.S. is called the giant sandhill crane. Sandhills prefer wetland habitat with emergent vegetation and often feed in harvested grain fields. The majority of migratory sandhill cranes in Alabama are found in the Tennessee River Valley with some birds wintering in Weiss Reservoir on the Coosa River. The sandhill crane hunt zone is restricted to north Alabama. Additionally, both state and federal wildlife refuges are closed to sandhill crane and waterfowl hunting.
Sandhill Crane Regulations
- Permits issued through limited quota drawing only.
- Applications for sandhill crane permits will be accepted only at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ website. Registration Now Open CLICK HERE (A $10 registration fee applies.)
- Eligibility- Applicants must be at least sixteen (16) years of age or older; and a resident of Alabama or a Lifetime Hunting License holder of the State of Alabama.
- The daily bag, season, and possession limit is three (3) sandhill cranes per person.
- The hunting zone will be defined as that area north of Interstate 20 from the Georgia state line to the interchange with Interstate 65, then east of Interstate 65 to the interchange with Interstate 22, then north of Interstate 22 to the Mississippi state line. (excludes the remainder of the state). See map below.
- Season Date are December 3, 2019, through January 5, 2020, AND January 16, 2020-January 31, 2020.
- Legal shooting hours are sunrise to sunset.
- Legal arms and ammunition are same as waterfowl.
Alabama Sandhill Crane Hunting Application Process
- Applicants must be at least sixteen (16) years of age or older; and a resident of Alabama or a Lifetime Hunting License holder of the State of Alabama.
- Applicants must obtain a valid All or Small Game Hunting License plus a State Duck Stamp; or a Lifetime Hunting License plus Lifetime Duck Stamp; or be an exempt resident landowner or immediate family hunting their own land; or residents over 65 years of age. (Resident landowners or residents over 65, must obtain a free Game Check H.E.L.P Number to apply).
- Applicants must enter the computerized drawing for a sandhill crane permit. Four hundred (400) hunters will be drawn for a permit (1permit/hunter) for a total of 1,200 tags (3 tags/hunter). The application period for the drawing is September 4-25, 2019. The drawing will be held Wednesday, October 2, 2019
- Drawn hunters must pass the sandhill crane identification test. All information needed to successfully pass is included within the test. You may take the test as many times as needed. The test will be available to drawn hunters online in October.
- Permits and Tags are non-transferable. All permits and tags will be issued once confirmation is received the sandhill crane identification test was taken and passed by the drawn hunter.
- Drawn hunters must obtain a Federal Duck Stamp and must also obtain a HIP certification and Wildlife Management Area License (if applicable).
- The season dates are December 3, 2019 – January 5, 2020, and January 16, 2020 - January 31, 2020. Shooting hours are from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag, season bag, and possession limit for sandhill cranes is three (3). Permits and tags are non-transferable.
- When you harvest a sandhill crane, before you move the bird, fill in the appropriate harvest information on your permit and tag and attach the tag to the bird. Each harvested crane must be accompanied by a completed tag (each tag allows harvest of 1 crane) and must match information written on the permit.
- All hunters issued sandhill crane permits and tags MUST go online fill out and return a post-season survey before February 12, 2020, regardless of whether they hunted or harvested a sandhill crane. Failure to return the post-season survey will result in hunters not being eligible to apply for a sandhill crane permits in future drawings.