Sandhill Crane

Online Test for Sandhill Crane Hunters and Other Sandhill Crane Information

To buy your Sandhill Crane permit, CLICK HERE.

General Information

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane - photo by Mike Blair, KDWP

Sandhill cranes have been hunted in Kansas since 1993 and in the Central Flyway since 1961. Hunting is permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in nine of the 10 states in the Central Flyway. Although crane hunting is opposed by some people, crane hunting is done on a sustainable basis under a population management plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sport hunting also is justified for maintaining reasonable distributions of sandhill cranes. If concentrations become too high in some areas, crop depredation can occur and risk of disease to cranes increases. Crane hunting is extremely challenging because cranes are very wary and crane meat is considered excellent table fare, probably the best of all migratory game birds.

The sandhill cranes that migrate through Kansas, and sometimes winter here, are part of the Mid-continent Population. This population is one of nine in North America and by far the largest with about 500,000 birds. The next largest populations number about 20-25,000 birds.

Hunting regulations have been formulated and contingency plans utilized to minimize the chance of endangered whooping cranes being accidentally shot bysandhill crane hunters. Although sandhill cranes start concentrating in huntable numbers during late October, the start of the hunting season was delayed to the Wednesday following the first Saturday in November to allow most of the whooping cranes to migrate through the state. Shooting hours for sandhill cranes start at thirty minutes after sunrise, from the start of season through November 30. On December 1 through the end of the season, shooting hours begin at sunrise rather than one-half hour before sunrise to minimize the chance of a sandhill crane hunter mistakenly shooting a whooping crane due to low light conditions. (Kansas is the only state in the Central Flyway to have delayed shooting hours to protect whooping cranes.) The federal-state, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, and Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area contingency plans provide guidance as to what actions to take if whooping cranes are present during hunting seasons.

Whooping Crane

Whooping Crane - photo by Mike Blair, KDWP

Sandhill crane and waterfowl hunters need to be aware that whooping cranes are occurring more frequently in Kansas, especially in the Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira areas, and be able to identify whooping cranes. Whooping cranes and sandhill cranes are similar in size and shape, but whooping cranes are white with black wing tips. The penalty for shooting a whooping crane is a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to one year in prison. For more information, go to:

Online Test for Sandhill Crane Hunters - This test is optional in 2005 and will be mandatory in 2006. The test is 378k in size and will take a few minutes to download if you have a modem. Flash 6 is required, which most computers have. If yours doesn't, then you will be asked to download Flash 6.

Whooping Crane Brochure - Information on whooping cranes and how to distinguish them from species that look similar to them.

USFWS Information for Waterfowl and Sandhill Crane Hunters - The purpose of this web site is to provide waterfowl and sandhill crane hunters with information that will reduce the likelihood of shooting illegally at migratory birds that may look like sandhill cranes, but for which there is no open season and are protected by Federal law.