SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – As of Friday, November 26, Utah’s annual swan hunting season has closed early after the federal quota of 20 trumpeter swans was met.
This year marks the third year that the hunt has closed early. Starting on November 27, it will be prohibited to kill any swans in the state of Utah.
Utah is among only nine other states in the country that allow swan hunting. According to Blair Stringham, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Migratory Game Bird program coordinator, 2021 is the third year in a row that they’ve seen more swans migrating to the Beehive State, which contributes to the early filling of Utah’s swan tag quota.
However, populations of these swans are still low in the Greater Yellowstone area, so the number of birds harvested birds is limited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Hunters who hope to harvest a swan must apply for a permit. This year, 2,750 permits were offered through a hunt drawing system. Hunters who hold a swan tag are legally allowed to take either a trumpeter or tundra swan.
Size, physical markings, and sound allow hunters to distinguish between these two birds. Not only are tundra swans smaller than trumpeters, they have a yellow-colored area near their eyes. Trumpeters can be identified easily by their namesake – a signature trumpet-like sound.
Although it is allowed, hunters are discouraged from harvesting trumpeter swans, due to authorities ongoing efforts to protect the population of these birds. Hunters who harvested this year are required to check in the bird at a DWR office or at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge office within 72 hours of harvest. Those who were not successful will not be refunded for their tag or have their preference points reinstated.
The Department of Wildlife Resources is proposing a required annual orientation course for any swan hunting hopefuls as part of an effort to prevent early season closure in the coming years. The course will cover swan identification and other information essential to swan hunting. The Utah Wildlife Board will vote on whether to approve the proposal during their upcoming meeting on December 2.