What is a sandhill crane?
- Sandhill cranes are large migratory wading birds. They stand over four feet tall and have a six-foot wingspan with light grey body feathers and a red crown patch on their forehead.
Is the sandhill crane the same as a heron?
- No. Although, they occupy the same habitats and have a similar stature, they are not related. One key way to distinguish the two is that herons fly with their necks curved in an S-shape, while cranes fly with their necks straight out.
Are sandhill cranes endangered?
- No. Migratory sandhill cranes have never been on the endangered species list.
Are sandhill cranes native to Alabama?
- Yes. Sandhill cranes have been migrating through Alabama for millions of years. The oldest known fossorial record is 2.5 million years old found in Florida.
Why are we having a sandhill crane hunting season in Alabama?
- Over the past 40 years, sandhill crane population numbers have increased by over 500%, and have continued to increase despite multiple states opening up sandhill crane hunting seasons. With the continued population growth, agricultural crop damage has increased in many states causing the take of sandhill cranes outside of hunting season via damage permit.
How will a sandhill crane season hunting season impact population numbers?
- The hunting season will have minimal to no impact on overall population numbers. Pre- and post-season surveys are conducted annually to monitor population numbers and harvest impacts.
Why would someone want to hunt a sandhill crane?
- Sandhill cranes offer a challenging hunt that provides a food source that is an organic, cage-free, lean protein that has minimal environmental impact.
Do other states have a sandhill crane hunting season?
- Yes. Currently, there are 16 states and Canadian Provinces that allow sandhill crane hunting.
How will sandhill crane hunting affect whooping cranes?
- The sandhill crane hunting season will have a positive indirect impact on whooping cranes. Monies from the increased hunting license sales directly contributes to the conservation and management of wetland habitat benefiting whooping crane and other species that rely on wetlands for food and refuge. In addition, measures have been established to prevent confusing whooping and sandhill cranes identification. All sandhill crane hunters are required to take and pass an identification and regulations test before given a sandhill crane permit to ensure whooping cranes are not negatively impacted during the hunting season.
Can you eat sandhill crane?
- Yes. Many consider sandhill crane the best tasting of all the migratory game birds.
Is sandhill crane hunting a new type of hunt?
- Yes and No. Yes, it is new in the modern age of hunting in Alabama. Although it is listed as a game bird, it hasn’t been hunted in Alabama since 1916. Prior to 1916 sandhill cranes had been hunted for thousands of years.
Will there be a sandhill crane hunting season every year?
- Yes, as long as sandhill crane populations remain stable or continue to increase. Monitoring and evaluation of harvest and population is conducted annually.
Will hunting effect sandhill crane viewing opportunities?
- No. Other states with long-standing hunting seasons have reported no effect on crane viewing opportunities. In most instances when wildlife (especially migratory birds) are subjected to hunting pressure, these animals flee to localized areas where there is little to no hunting pressure (e.g. wildlife refuges) where many viewing opportunities take place.
How do you hunt sandhill cranes?
- Very similar to waterfowl hunting, hunters will set up a blind and decoys to attract and call the birds in. Sandhill cranes are very wary and difficult to decoy.
Why is the season restricted to North Alabama?
- The migratory path of sandhill cranes, from summer breeding grounds to wintering grounds, passes through North Alabama. Hunting is restricted to this North Alabama zone to protect non-migratory (resident) species of sandhill cranes from incidental take.
Can you hunt sandhill crane on public lands?
- State and Federal refuges are closed to sandhill crane and waterfowl hunting. However, rules and regulations on other public lands may differ and it is recommended you review and familiarize yourself with regulations before hunting any public land.