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Don’t Shoot Unless You’re Sure

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Trumpeter Swan – Protected –

All-white plumage, Long neck, Wingspan: 80″, Length: 60″, Juveniles: gray-brown



Snow Goose

White, with black wing tips, Short neck
Wingspan: 53″, Length: 28″



Canada Goose

Gray and white body and wings, Black head and neck with white chin strap, Wingspan: 60″, Length: 45″



Sandhill Crane – Protected –

Gray plumage, Long neck, Long legs trailing body, Wingspan: 77″, Length: 46″, Juveniles: gray mixed with brown


Whooping Crane – Protected –

White body with black wing tips, Long neck, Long legs trailing body, Wingspan: 87″, Length: 52″, Juveniles: white mixed with brown


Tundra Swan – Protected –

All-white plumage, Long neck, Wingspan: 66″, Length: 52″, Juveniles: gray-brown

Many protected species of waterfowl, wading birds, and other waterbirds occur alongside the many species of waterfowl that can be legally hunted in Tennessee. These species are protected by both state and federal law, and cannot be legally hunted anywhere in the state. Some protected species utilize the same habitats, possess similar coloration, and share the habits of many legally hunted birds.

Through careful study, accidental shootings of protected species can be prevented. Please help the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency prevent accidental shootings by familiarizing yourself with these protected species before heading into the field and remember, “Don’t Shoot Unless You’re Sure.”

The Trumpeter and Tundra Swans are the largest and the only native, all-white waterfowl occurring in Tennessee. Both species are protected by both state and federal law in Tennessee and cannot be hunted. Until recently, John James Audubon had reported the last live Trumpeter Swans in Tennessee during his 1820 flatboat trip down the Mississippi River. As a result of intensive reintroduction efforts in the eastern United States, Trumpeter Swans returned to Tennessee in December of 2001 in Lauderdale County. Reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans is a cooperative effort between state, federal, and non-governmental organizations including sportsmen and nonconsumptive user groups. If you see a Trumpeter Swan in Tennessee, please report it to any TWRA Regional Office.

Historically, populations of both the Sandhill and Whooping cranes in the eastern United States experienced widespread population declines. These declines resulted from the loss of wetland habitat and unregulated market hunting. Both are protected by state and federal law and cannot be legally hunted in Tennessee. The Sandhill Crane has experienced a tremendous recovery in recent years and migratory populations crossing through Tennessee are steadily increasing. Today, the Sandhill Crane is common in portions of western and eastern Tennessee.

A flock of Whooping Cranes migrating across Tennessee in October 2001 became the first migratory flock of that species in the state in over 100 years. An effort to reintroduce a migratory flock of Whooping Cranes to the eastern United States includes Tennessee as a vital part of the migratory journey. An ultralight aircraft serving as a surrogate parent to the Whooping Crane juveniles is teaching them the long-forgotten migratory route through Tennessee to wintering grounds in Florida. Additional Whooping Cranes were led by aircraft in 2002 and several free-ranging Whoopers can also be expected in the state from October–April.


If you have information regarding any illegal activities concerning protected species, please call the TWRA Poacher Hotline:

West Tn (Reg. I)


Middle Tn (Reg. Ii)


Cumberland Plateau (Reg. Iii)


East Tn (Reg. Iv)


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