There will be a sandhill crane hunt in Tennessee running from November 28 to January 1. That’s the result of a unanimous vote by the 14-member Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) that met Friday in Knoxville.
According to a report in the Tennessean, the wildlife agency will issue 400 sandhill crane permits that will allow each hunter to take up to three birds. The permits will be awarded using a lottery system.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service had originally proposed a 60-day season offering 775 permits. The upcoming hunt is somewhat smaller than originally planned. And the season was also scheduled to avoid conflicts with a popular crane festival that takes place in Tennessee each January.
WATE noted that it’s the first-ever hunting season offered for the sandhill cranes in Tennessee.
As I reported last week, TFWC met in Knoxville, Tennessee to decide whether or not to open a historic sandhill crane hunting season.
Once little seen in the state, the population of migratory sandhill cranes has exploded from eight or less in 1969 to 70,000 to 87,000 winter visitors in recent years.
Tennessee wildlife officials wanted to authorize a hunt of as many as 2,300 birds to relieve some of the pressure on competing waterfowl like ducks and geese.
Two well-known opponents of the Tennessee sandhill crane hunting season are former president Jimmy Carter and primate expert Jane Goodall.
Carter said that he’s a hunter himself. But he objected to the sandhill crane hunt because he worried that some hunters will confuse the sandhill crane species with the critically endangered whooping crane.
To address those worries, Tennessee wildlife officials will require anyone who wants a sandhill crane hunting permit to pass a test proving they can distinguish between the two species.
[sandhill cranes photographed in New Mexico by Elaine Radford]