Evaluation of a Tundra Swan Season in North Carolina

In 1984 North Carolina opened the first tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus) hunting season in modern times in the Atlantic Flyway. During this first season, 1,000 permits were issued. Subsequently, 6,000 permits/year were allowed and issued. A 4-year study using aerial, ground, and hunter surveys was established in 1984 to monitor this hunting season. Estimated total annual kill beginning with the 1984-85 season was 334, 2,783, 2,579, and 3,007 for each year of the study, respectively. The harvest averaged slightly over 5% of the state's and about 3% of the Flyway's midwinter population. The ratio of permits issued to swans harvested was 2.2, and was comparable to results reported from Utah. Crippling rates (x = 11.3) were less in the North Carolina season than those reported elsewhere. Hunter success rates were not related to immature/adult ratios. Hunting under a permit system at current quota levels is not adversely affecting the Eastern population (EP) of tundra swans and probably will not reduce the number of swans wintering in North Carolina.

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