Sandhill Cranes & Tundra Swans

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
Hello Guys,

I have prepared a package of the correspondence between the senior levels of management at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and myself from earlier this year regarding the Removal of the Mute Swan from the List of Protected Species, a limited (tag only) Sandhill Crane season and a limited (tag only) Tundra Swan season.

I have provided two (2) copies of this package to Kyle and Randall at the Long Point Waterfowl Management Unit (LPWMU) for their personal files as well as another copy of this package for general viewing by interested waterfowlers visiting the unit ... just ask them if you want to review the package at the unit.

I have reached an understanding with the OFAH and I have provided them with a grant from The Dr. Jerome Katchin Waterfowl Foundation for their advocacy work regarding the Removal of the Mute Swan from the List of Protected Species and a limited (tag only) Sandhill Crane season at this time.

I have offered to provide the OFAH with an additional grant at a later date for their advocacy work regarding a limited (tag only) Tundra Swan season once we have obtained a limited (tag only) Sandhill Crane season for this province. I thank all of you for your continued support regarding all of these initiatives.

Jerome
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
Hello Guys,

I thought that you may be interested to know that the State of Wisconsin is now considering a Sandhill Crane season to potentially start in the fall of 2022 and that Delta Waterfowl is supporting this proposal. Included in this proposal would be a Sandhill Crane hunter education program.

Wisconsin would be the fourth state to establish a Sandhill Crane season harvesting birds from the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes ... joining Kentucky (2011), Tennessee (2013) and Alabama (2019). Hopefully the Province of Ontario will consider establishing a Sandhill Cranes season as well.

Jerome

PS The State of Wisconsin considered a limited (tag only) Tundra Swan season a few years ago but the proposal was defeated by a small margin.

PS Although the Canadian Wildlife Service would make the final decision the support from the Province of Ontario would be required. Delta Waterfowl currently supports the establishment of a limited (tag only) Sandhill Crane season in Ontario.
 

Old Cut LongPointer

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the update Jerome ! I know you have been working on the Tundra Swan Hunting Project for a long time now and at least you were open minded enough to include the hunting of Sand Hill Cranes also. Kudos to you ! Correct me if I'm wrong but when you started this endeavour there was only three or four States that allowed the harvest of Tundra Swans but at present there are nine that do with two more States considering seasons also ? What is the hold up on our end ? Who do we blame ? Why must we (Ontarians/Canadians) always be last in line ? How can we take this idea and turn it into reality ?

C'est la vie
C'est la guerre
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
Dear OCLP:

I apologize for my delay in responding to your questions but I wanted to respond to your questions completely including why the delay in obtaining a Tundra Swan season in Canada. However you may not like my answer to that question.

I will be responding (still in the process) to your questions in a series of segments including a History of Swan Hunting in Ontario, Swan Population Dynamics, Swan Management Plans - Distribution of Tags, Current Allotment of Tags and Delay in Obtaining a Season.

I already had prepared a report regarding the Current Allotment of Tags for Mr. Jim Fisher (Director of Conservation Policy in Canada, Delta Waterfowl) as requested so I will start with that segment. I will post the remaining segments as they are completed.

Jerome
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
Dear OCLP:

I checked my notes from both Tundra Swan management plans.

Eastern Population:

Montana 1983
North Carolina 1984
North Dakota 1988
Virginia 1988
South Dakota 1990
New Jersey 2007*
Delaware 2019**
Maryland 2019**

Note: New Jersey* had a "standing authorization" for a season in 2007 and Dr. Jean Pierre DeVink (Wildlife Biologist, CWS) confirmed that New Jersey had subsequently established a season in his Tundra Swan Season Assessment released in 2013.

Note: Delaware** reported to have been granted a season and Maryland** reported to have been offered a season by the USFWS in 2019 as published in Wildfowl Magazine.

Western Population:

Utah 1962
Nevada 1969
Montana 1970
Alaska 1988

I hope that the above information has answered your question.

Jerome
 

Old Cut LongPointer

Well-Known Member
Okee dokee ? So it may be possible for Ontario to get an allotment of approx. 2000 birds to harvest ? Albeit the more Provinces or States that are given a season would mean lower allotments for all involved in harvesting Tundra Swans, correct ?
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
An Ontario Tundra Swan Season (Part 1)

History of Swan Hunting in Ontario

The idea of having a Tundra Swan season in Ontario should not be controversial as the hunting of Tundra Swans has been part of our historical waterfowling past.

Our Indigenous Peoples have been hunting Tundra Swans since they first settled North America and they continue to do so under a specific amendment in 1994 to our then current "migratory birds" regulations that permitted a regulated traditional harvest of the birds as well as their eggs ... more on this later.

Furthermore Samuel de Champlain and his surveyor crew documented that they "lived off the land" harvesting ducks, geese and swans (Trumpeter Swans and Tundra Swans) as well as other wildlife starting in 1620 as they surveyed the frontier (south western Ontario) of what was known as Upper Canada back then. It was common knowledge at the time that settlers in the established areas of Upper Canada (eastern Ontario) were also harvesting ducks, geese and swans (Trumpeter Swans and Tundra Swans) as well as other wildlife. With the exception of these two (2) species of swans this tradition has continued to this day.

Unfortunately the ever expanding growth of the human population in Upper Canada and subsequently in Ontario after Confederation in 1867 along with unregulated hunting (especially the commercial "market hunting" of the day) decimated our swan populations to the point where drastic and urgent action was required to save these two (2) waterfowl species ... especially the larger Trumpeter Swan.

The "Convention (Treaty) for the Protection of Migratory Birds" was signed by Great Britain (on the behalf of Canada) and the United States of America in 1916. The Canadian Government subsequently passed the "Migratory Birds Convention Act" in 1917 and the American Government subsequently passed the "Migratory Bird Treaty Act" in 1918 effectively ending the harvest of Trumpeter Swans and Tundra Swans until such time that their respective populations could sustain a regulated and contolled harvest.

The regulated and controlled harvests of Tundra Swans from their respective populations were eventually possible by the implementation of the Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans starting in 1983 and the Management Plan for the Western Population of Tundra Swans starting in 1962.

Please refer to Part 2 regarding "Introduction of Tundra Swan Seasons" in North America for further information on the seasons that are curemtly available to waterfowlers.

Jerome Katchin, D.V.M.
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
An Ontario Tundra Swan Season (Part 2)

Introduction of Tundra Swan Seasons

The introduction of Tundra Swans seasons in North America was based upon the guidelines established by the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans and the Western Population of Tundra Swans under their respective management plans.

The following states introduced a limited (tag only) Tundra Swan season in accordance with the provisions within the Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans.

Eastern Population:

Montana 1983
North Carolina 1984
North Dakota 1988
Virginia 1988
South Dakota 1990
New Jersey 2007*
Delaware 2019**
Maryland 2019**

Note: New Jersey* had a "standing authorization" for a season in 2007 but a wildlife biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service confirmed that New Jersey had subsequently established a season in his Tundra Swan Season Assessment that was released in 2013.

Note: Delaware** was reported to have been granted a season and Maryland** was reported to have been offered a season by the USFWS in 2019 as published in Wildfowl Magazine.

The following states introduced a limited (tag only) Tundra Swan season in accordance with the provisions within the Management Plan for the Western Population of Tundra Swans.

Western Population:

Utah 1962
Nevada 1969
Montana 1970
Alaska 1988

Note: Montana harvests birds from the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans as well as from the Western Population of Tundra Swans.

Note: The USFWS introduced an experimental five (5) year "General Swan Season" for Utah, Nevada and Montana (western harvest) in 1995 that permitted the incidental harvest of Trumpeter Swans while the Tundra Swan season for Alaska remained the same. This experimental "General Swan Season" became established in 2000 due to the low incidental harvest of Trumpeter Swans during that five (5) year period.

Please refer to Part 3 regarding "Tundra Swan Population Dynamics" for further information on the current Tundra Swan populations.

Jerome Katchin, D.V.M.
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
An Ontario Tundra Swan Season (Part 3)

Tundra Swan Population Dynamics

The two (2) distinct populations of Tundra Swans are managed separately under their respective management plans.

The Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans (2007) provides for maintaining a population goal of 80,000 birds based upon a mid-winter survey. The eastern population of Tundra Swans was estimated to be 100,000 birds in 2010 ... an excess of 25% over the population goal of 80,000 birds.

Note: The current ten year (2007-2017) population average is approximately 103,400 birds.

The Management Plan for the Western Population of Tundra Swans (2001) provides for maintaining a population goal of 60,000 birds based upon a mid-winter survey. The western population of Tundra Swans was estimated to be 80,000 birds in 2010 ... an excess of 33 1/3% over the population goal of 60,000 birds.

Note: The current ten year (2007-2017) population average is approximately 86,300 birds.

The two (2) distinct populations of Tundra Swans have continued to increase and in 2012 the continental population of Tundra Swans (eastern and western populations combined) was reported to be approximately 228,000 birds ... up from 180,000 birds in 2010.

Note: The current ten year (2007-2017) population average is approximately 189,700 birds.

The continual increase in the number of Tundra Swans prompted the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2017 to recommend increasing the current number of 9,600 tags available for the eastern population of Tundra Swans to 12,000 tags. This recommendation was subject to an evironmental assessment ... results are pending.

Note: The current number of 5,000 tags available for the western population of Tundra Swans remain the same since fewer than that number of tags are actually distributed at this time ... more on this later.

Please refer to Part 4 regarding "Trumpeter Swan Population Dynamics" for further information on the current Trumpeter Swan populations.

Jerome Katchin, D.V.M.
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
An Ontario Tundra Swan Season (Part 4)

Trumpeter Swan Population Dynamics

The implementation of an additional Tundra Swan season in Canada would required due consideration for the potential incidental harvest of a Trumpeter Swan during that Tundra Swan season as an additional Tundra Swan season in the United States would require. This legitimate concern regarding a Tundra Swan season in Canada has already been addressed by the Canadian Wildlife Sevice (CWS) in its Tundra Swan Season Assessment that was released in August of 2013.

An international (Canada and the United States) range-wide (Continental Population) survey of Trumpeter Swans is conducted every five (5) years during the summer months as part of the overall Trumpeter Swan Management Plan. There are however three (3) sub-populations of Trumpeter Swans in North America. These are the Pacific Coast Population, the Rocky Mountain Population and the Interior Population (which includes the resident birds in the Province of Ontario).

The following Continental Population totals includes both adults (white swans) and cygnets (grey swans).

1968 - 3,722 1985 - 10,908 2000 - 23,647 2015 - 63,016*
1975 - 5,085 1990 - 15,625 2005 - 34,803 2020 - Canceled
1980 - 8,847 1995 - 19,756 2010 - 46,225

Note: The Continental Population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010. The 2010 total included 34,249 adults and 11,976 cygnets.

I do not have the actual numbers for the 2005 sub-populations but they were approximately:

Pacific Coast Population at 24,000 birds
Rockey Mountain Population at 5,000 birds
Interior Population at 5,000 birds

I do not have the actual numbers for the 2010 sub-populations but they were approximately:

Pacific Coast Population at 25,000 birds
Rockey Mountain Population at 10,000 birds
Interior Population at 11,000 birds

Note: The Interior Population more than doubled in size between 2005 and 2010.

The range-wide (Continental Population) survey of Trumpeter Swans conducted in 2015 was a little different in that only "white swans" (adults and sub-adults) were counted. The 2015 total was 63,016 "white swans" which would probably be more than doubled the 2005 total if the 2015 cygnets were counted in the total.

There was a dramatic shift in the sub-populations that was observed in this survey.

Pacific Coast Population at 24,240 "white swans"
Rockey Mountain Population at 11,721 "white swans"
Interior Population at 27,055 "white swans"

The continual increase in the number of Trumpeter Swans (especially within the Interior Population) prompted the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2017 to recommend a "General Swan Season" for the eastern portion of the United States that would permit the incidental harvest of Trumpeter Swans during the established Tundra Swan seasons. This recommendation was subject to an evironmental assessment ... results are pending.

As stated in Part 2 the USFWS introduced an experimental five (5) year "General Swan Season" for Utah, Nevada and Montana (western harvest) in 1995 that permitted the incidental harvest of Trumpeter Swans while the Tundra Swan season for Alaska remained the same. This experimental "General Swan Season" became established in 2000 due to the low incidental harvest of Trumpeter Swans during that five (5) year period. An average of 9.6 Trumpeter Swans have been harvested per year between 1995 and 2016.

The range-wide (Continental Population) survey of Trumpeter Swans was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic however I participated in The Trumpeter Swan Society's bird count that was conducted on February 01, 2020. I counted four (4) Trumpeter Swans in Coletta Bay that day.

Please refer to Part 5 regarding the "Allotment of Tundra Swan Tags" for Canada and the United States including how these tags would be redistributed to accommodate the implementation of an additional Tundra Swan season in Canada.

Jerome Katchin, D.V.M.
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
An Ontario Tundra Swan Season (Part 5)

Allotment of Tundra Swan Tags

The allotment of tags for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans and the Western Population of Tundra Swans is based upon the provisions within their respective management plans.

Eastern Population of Tundra Swans

In 1988 a Sport Hunting Plan was developed for the allotment of tags for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans that became part of its management plan. This Sport Hunting Plan allotted the tags for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans based upon the provinces and states where the birds are produced, migrate through and overwinter.

Consequently the tags were evenly distributed to the production area (33%), the migration area (33%) and the wintering area (34%) with a further distribution within each of these areas to specific jurisdictions as indicated below:

Production Area:

Alaska 3%, Yukon 2%, Northwest Territories 28% for a total of 33%.

Note: About 4% of the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans breed in Alaska ... specifically in the area known as the "north slope". The Western Population of Tundra Swans breed along the west coast of Alaska.

Note: The territory of Nunavut (previously part of the Northwest Territories) was established in 1999 so its tags would obviously come from a portion of those tags originally allotted to the Northwest Territories.

Migration Area:

Canada (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario) 11%, Central Flyway States 11%, Mississippi Flyway States 11% for a total of 33%.

Note: The Eastern Population of Tundra Swans migrate through Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario as well as eastern Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York.

Wintering Area:

Atlantic Flyway States 34%.

Note: The Eastern Population of Tundra Swans winters in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland Virginia and North Carolina.

I hope that this explains why Canada is only allocated 41% of the tags while the United States is allocated 59% of the tags. The Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans was last updated in 2007 and provides for a total of 9,600 tags to be distributed according to the demand for them. Consequently the tags originally allotted to Canada (currently without any Tundra Swan seasons) are being utilized by American waterfowlers as permitted by the management plan. The recipient of a tag permits the individual to harvest one (1) Tundra Swan during the season but the individual may apply for a second tag should some tags remain available after the start of the season.

Note: As stated in Part 3 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has now recommended increasing the current number of 9,600 tags available for the eastern population of Tundra Swans to 12,000 tags.

Western Population of Tundra Swans

The allotment of tags for the Western Population of Tundra Swans is different than for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans since there are currently only a few jurisdictions (none in Canada) with a relatively low demand for the tags. The Management Plan for the Western Population of Tundra Swans was updated in 2001 and then again in 2017 but without any significant changes.

The management plan provides for a total of 5,000 tags to be distributed according to the demand for them however only 3,150 tags for the "General Swan Season" in Utah, Nevada and Montana have been made available since 2000 with a one (1) bird per permit and another 900 tags for the Tundra Swan season in Alaska with a three (3) bird per permit. Individuals may apply for a second tag should some tags remain available after the start of the season.

Note: An implementation of a Tundra Swan season in Canada would simply result in a return of the appropriate number of tags to that Canadian jurisdiction as originally described in the Sport Hunting Plan that was developed in 1988.

Please refer to Part 6 regarding the current "Distribution of Tundra Swan Tags" in the United States including how many of these tags could be redistributed back to Canada.

Jerome Katchin, D.V.M.
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
An Ontario Tundra Swan Season (Part 6)

Distribution of Tundra Swan Tags

The distribution of tags for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans and the Western Population of Tundra Swans is based upon the provisions within their respective management plans ... which is currently demand driven.

Eastern Population of Tundra Swans

Migration Area (42% of 9,600 tags)

Montana - 500 tags
North Dakota - 2,000 tags
South Dakota - 1,500 tags

Wintering Area (58% of 9,600 tags)

North Carolina - 5,000 tags
Virginia - 600 tags
New Jersey - Standing Authorization in 2007 ... current update is not available.

Additional Jurisdictions:

Delaware - 84 tags starting in 2019
Maryland - Standing Authorization in 2019 ... current update is not available.

Western Population of Tundra Swans

There are currently 3,150 "General Swan" tags available.

Utah - 2,000 tags
Nevada - 650 tags
Montana - 500 tags

There are also 900 (3 bird) Tundra Swan permits available.

Alaska - 900 (3 bird) permits

A redistribution of up to 41% of the tags for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans could be (should be) brought back to Canada as per the Sport Hunting Plan developed in 1988.

Additional tags could be made available for the Western Population of Tundra Swans to be harvested in Canada since not all of the 5,000 available tags are currently being distributed in the United States.

Please refer to Part 7 regarding the current "Subsistence Harvest of Tundra Swans" and their eggs in Canada and the United States.

Jerome Katchin, D.V.M.
 

Old Cut LongPointer

Well-Known Member
Very interesting ! So my math is not the greatest but I think it works out as "we" in Canada could get 11 percent of 9600 (=1056) divided 3 ways(=352) for each province Sask. , Manitoba and Ontario ? Would you know how much they are charging for a Swan Tag in the U.S.A ?
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
Hello OCLP,

Your mathematical skills are correct ... however ... that would be the worst possible scenario (theoritically speaking) in the event that the three (3) Provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as the three (3) Territories of Nunavut, Northwest and Yukon all implemented a limited (tag only) Tundra Swan season and then claimed their full allotment of tags ... which most probably would never happen.

Although it could be possible that Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would have to divide up their collective 11% of the 9,600 tags equally (if the demand was there for them) the remaining 30% of 9,600 tags (allotted to the Canadian Territories) would be distributed according to the demand for them keeping in mind that the majority of the residents within the Canadian Territories are Indigenous Peoples who do not require a tag to harvest a Tundra Swan.

Note: Approximately 85% of Nunavut's residents are Indigenous Peoples.

Consequently those extra tags (allotted to the Canadian Territories) would be available to be distributed according to the number of hunters requesting them with probably most of those hunters living in Ontario ... based upon our population density being five (5) times that of Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined. The cost of the tags in the United States is currently $10.00 each and you can apply for two (2) tags per season.

Jerome

PS Remember that the USFWS recommended in 2017 to increase the number of tags from 9,600 to 12,000 tags so Canadian waterfowlers could get 41% of 12,000 tags in total.
 

Old Cut LongPointer

Well-Known Member
Thanks Jerome for confirming my math and the further explanation of the numbers. As for the increase in tags from 9600 to 12,000 ? As long as it's based on scientifically based sustainability and not the need to keep a status quo due to a increase in hunting pressure coming from new areas such as Sask. , Manitoba, Ontario plus any new State that is applying for a Tundra Swan Hunt. As for the cost of a Tag ? I suppose that 10 bucks American equates to 15 Canadian ? LoL ! No doubt by the time CWS gets through with it probably more ? As long as it came with a "keepsake" permit much like our present day Duck Stamp that be pretty cool !
 

fireram

Well-Known Member
R.O.C. (Radio Operator's Certificate)
So, since 1988 the populations have been supportive of a swan season in both US and Canada.
And since 1988 the number of tags available to Canadians has been re distributed to Americans, simply because our gov cant put pen to paper and sell some tags here in this country.
No surprise here, but wow,,

Thanks Jerome for putting in the effort.
I feel like if this was spun differently to the hunting population, maybe it would move along faster...
Headline in OFAH - Canadian government gives 4,800 tags to America worth ~$50,000 to hunt swans that fly from Canada across US boarder - .....
 

Old Cut LongPointer

Well-Known Member
I think it's more a question of "If you don't ask... you don't get" ? My assumption is a few States where the Swans winter over in did ask back in 1988 and therefore they got ? Since then other States have asked and again have been rewarded with a share. Now it's our time to ask because of interest generated by Jerome and other like minded people. Maybe if Jerome had started this campaign back in 1988 we would have our quota today ? LoL ! Also had certain hunting associations been more open minded from the beginning of this quest we may well be much further along.

Keep up the good work Jerome !
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
Hello OCLP,

The USFWS recommendation in 2017 to increase the number of tags from 9,600 to 12,000 is in accordance with the Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans and is based upon the eastern population of Tundra Swans (mid-winter population count) being 25% above the management goal of 80,000 birds for three (3) consecutive years.

In other words should the eastern population of Tundra Swans exceed 80,000 birds by 25% (20,000 birds) for three (3) consecutive years then the number of tags available may be increased by 25% ... in this case 25% of 9,600 tags would be an additional 2,400 tags for a total of 12,000 tags. In 2010 (when I first reviewed this management plan and presented my proposal to the Canadian Wildlife Service) the eastern population of Tundra Swans had already exceeded 100,000 birds and has continued to increase in numbers since that time.

This would be a temporary increase in the number of tags available each year and would only continue until the eastern population of Tundra Swans is reduced to under 100,000 birds. The corollary to this policy is that should the eastern population of Tundra Swans fall below 80,000 birds then the number of tags available each year would be reduced by 25%.

Consequently there would appear to be little chance of over harvesting Tundra Swans from the eastern population of Tundra Swans since the long-term harvest success rate is only 37%. Furthermore the Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans also has a "fail safe" lower limit of 60,000 birds at which point all eastern Tundra Swan hunting seasons would be suspended until such time that the eastern population recovers to 80,000 birds.

Jerome

Note: The possibility of over harvesting Tundra Swans from the western population of Tundra Swans is even more remote (the long-term harvest success rate is only 36%) since the revised Management Plan for the Western Population of Tundra Swans (2017) acknowledged that the annual subsistence harvest combined with the annual sport harvest will not be able to prevent the continual increase in the number of Tundra Swans in that population.
 

Tundra Swan

Well-Known Member
Hello Firearm and OCLP,

I have compleated my Part 7 (Subsistence Harvest of Tundra Swans) which will be posted shortly and have nearly completed my Part 8 (Who is Stopping a Tundra Swan Season) which you will find interesting as it would appear that the three (3) of us are obviously thinking the same based upon what I have already prepared so far.

I would ultimately like to be able to have my eight (8) parts published in a Canadian outdoor publication so that the average waterfowler would know that we are continuing to miss out on an opportunity to harvest a waterfowl "big game" species by default but the Canadian Wildlife Service is not to blame. Thank you both for your comments.

Jerome
 
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