Swan tags are available for first time in Idaho

| August 4, 2020 1:00 AM

Idaho hunters are now able to purchase swan tags. The tags went on sale last week.

This year marks the first time Idaho will have a swan season, Kiira Siitari of Fish and Game said. The season that begins Oct. 19 is limited to four of the Panhandle’s five counties, including Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, and Benewah counties.

The season runs through Dec. 1 and there are just 50 tags available beginning Aug. 1, at a cost of $22.75. Hunters are allowed to bag one swan.

“Hunters should note that there is a mandatory check and report for anyone who harvests a swan,” Siitari said.

In addition, a migratory bird permit and a duck stamp are also required to hunt swans.

Along with swan tags, hunters can purchase Sandhill crane tags, which also become available Saturday. Sandhill crane seasons — for eastern Idaho only — begin in September and run for two weeks between Sept. 1 and Sept. 15, or between Sept. 16 and Sept. 30, depending on tag type. Tags cost $19.75 and the annual limit is two cranes. The primary reason for the crane hunts is to prevent crop damage, Fish and Game said.

The swan hunting bill that passed earlier this year in the Idaho Legislature developed a three-year, experimental swan-hunting season and created a tag for swan hunts. Idaho Department of Fish and Game said the swan season would for the time being be limited to tundra swans, but could expand to additional swan hunting.

Fish and Game said hunters should be able to distinguish between a tundra and a trumpeter swan in an effort to minimize the harvest of trumpeter swans, which were once considered threatened. Although biologists and waterfowl hunters have noticed increasing populations of migrating tundra swans during the waterfowl season, few trumpeter swans migrate through the area, according to Fish and Game.

Tundra swans are traditionally seen along the Coeur d’Alene River’s chain lakes in the Panhandle, and a large number of the birds die because of poisoning from mining waste that collects in flooded fields in the river basin where the birds feed.

Because Aug. 1 falls on a Saturday, Fish and Game officials recommend buying the tags online, via telephone, or waiting until offices open on Monday.

The legislation also expanded pheasant stocking at North Idaho’s wildlife management areas and additional locations approved by commissioners.

— Staff report