posted on November 06, 2009 00:07
PRATT — The sandhill crane hunting season opens Nov. 11 and runs through Jan. 7, 2010. Hunters pursuing this large game bird should be aware that the endangered whooping crane may be present during the sandhill crane season. Whooping cranes use the same habitats as sandhill cranes, and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area are two of their favorite stops in the Central Flyway.
Although most whooping cranes usually have migrated through the Kansas by the opening of sandhill crane season, whoopers are sometimes sighted into early December. As of Oct. 30, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had received reports of whooping cranes in Nebraska on Oct. 14, Oct. 19, Oct. 20, and Oct. 27 at different sites. No sightings have been reported in Kansas or Oklahoma, so the birds may be migrating later this year.
Sandhill crane hunters — and all migratory bird hunters — should expect to see whooping cranes and be sure of their targets before shooting. All sandhill crane hunters are required to take an online crane identification test before purchasing a sandhill crane permit. The test may be found by going to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us, and typing “sandhill crane” in the search box at the top of the home page.
Hunters who see a whooping crane are asked to report it to the nearest KDWP office.
Shooting hours for sandhill cranes are one-half hour after sunrise to 2 p.m. through November 30. On or after Dec. 1, shooting hours are sunrise to 2 p.m. More information, as well as photos of both species, can also be found in the 2009 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, available wherever licenses are sold.