Approximately 300 birds killed in first Alabama sandhill crane season

Published 9:56 am Saturday, February 15, 2020

About 300 sandhill cranes were killed during Alabama’s first hunting season for the birds in more than a century, the state conservation agency said.

A news release from the state conservation agency said about 400 people bought permits to hunt the large birds, which some people like to eat.

While not everyone with a permit got a bird, migratory game bird coordinator Seth Maddox said the final numbers will probably be in line with other states that have hunting seasons for sandhill cranes.

The state last allowed sandhill crane hunting in 1916 after hunting nearly wiped out the species.

A hunting ban allowed the bird’s populations to recover enough to allow a season.

Warm winter temperatures caused diminished duck numbers in Alabama this season and also affected the sandhill population, Maddox said.

Officials estimated a population of roughly 12,000 cranes, down about 3,000 from average.

“Our season was probably a little better than I expected,” he said. “Our hunters had never done it before. They had to find people willing to give them access to hunting land. Hunters got to make new friends. I think it was a very successful season.”

The two-part season for sandhill cranes, which had a three-bird limit, ended Jan. 31.

Hunting was allowed in north Alabama, where water from the Tennessee River and other waterways draws birds.