This winter you can hunt sandhill cranes in Alabama for the first time in 103 years

A Sandhill Crane flies low over a field (Getty Images)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Later this year, hunters in Alabama will have the opportunity to hunt sandhill cranes for the first time since 1916, state wildlife officials said Thursday.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said 400 permits will be issued for hunters to hunt the cranes. There will be a limit of three birds per permit.

There will be two periods for the sandhill crane hunting season. The first will be from Dec. 3, 2019 until Jan. 5, 2020. The second segment will be Jan. 16-31, 2020.

Tennessee and Kentucky have had sandhill crane hunting seasons since 2011 and 2013, respectively. Another 13 states west of the Mississippi also have them, officials said. The decision to open them up to hunting came after surveys showed their numbers were increasing.

Registration for the season is limited to Alabama residents age 16 and up, as well as Alabama lifetime license holders. Applicants also need to have a regular hunting license and waterfowl stamp. The registration period will open in September, and the drawing for permits will be in October.

People who are awarded permits also will have to take an online test on regulations and species identification. Once they pass, they will have to buy a federal duck stamp and a Harvest Information Program license, as well as a wildlife management area license if they are hunting in a wildlife management area.

The new sandhill crane season is the first time in more than a decade that a new species is open to hunt in Alabama, officials said. The last time was 2006, when alligators became open to hunting in the state.

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