Utah's swan hunt closes early for 3rd consecutive year after federal harvest limit for trumpeter swans met
Salt Lake City — Utah’s swan hunting season has closed 16 days early after the federal quota of 20 trumpeter swans was met on Friday, Nov. 26. This is the third consecutive year that the swan hunt had to be closed early.
Starting tomorrow — Saturday, Nov. 27 — hunters are prohibited from killing any swan in Utah.
The 2021 swan hunting season opened on Oct. 2 and was scheduled to run until Dec. 12, but closed early after the 20th trumpeter swan was harvested. Previously, the limit for trumpeter swan harvest in Utah was set at 10 swans, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service increased that number to 20 swans in 2019.
"This is the third year in a row that we have seen a higher number of trumpeter swans harvested because there were more migrating through Utah than in previous years," Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Migratory Game Bird Program Coordinator Blair Stringham said.
Utah is one of only nine states in the U.S. that allows hunting for swans. Due to the low population size of trumpeter swans in the Greater Yellowstone area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sets an annual harvest quota for the number of trumpeter swans that can be harvested in Utah.
Utah's swan hunt requires a permit, which is only available through a hunt drawing, and 2,750 permits were offered this year. Hunters with a permit can legally take one trumpeter or tundra swan; however, hunters are discouraged from harvesting trumpeter swans.
"We realize the early closure of this year's hunting season means that some permit holders may not harvest a swan, but we appreciate their understanding and support of our efforts to protect the trumpeter swan population," Stringham said.
Trumpeter and tundra swans both migrate through Utah and can be identified by size, physical markings and sound. Trumpeter swans are significantly larger than tundra swans. Trumpeter swans do not have a yellow-colored area near their eyes, and they also make a distinctive trumpet-like sound, hence their name.
In an effort to prevent the swan hunt from closing early in future years, the DWR is currently proposing a required annual orientation course for anyone who applies for a swan hunting permit. The course will emphasize swan identification and other educational information. The Utah Wildlife Board will vote on the proposal during its Dec. 2 meeting.
Hunters who harvested any species of swan 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. Hunters who didn't harvest a swan before the season was closed will not be refunded the permit fee or have their preference points reinstated.