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"Regulations for Crows"
by Doug Wigfield (co-founder)

A question that always comes up in crow hunting circles is “why does crow hunting vary so much from state to state…some let you hunt year round and others a short period?” Well, lets go back about two hundred years and see what caused certain restrictions on hunting. Commercial market hunting was rampant. Birds and their parts, especially feathers, were being shipped illegally among countries and states. The Lacey Act was established in May of 1900 to combat this but was failing because it was big business and there were a lack of officers to enforce the law. The Weeks-McLean Law was enacted in 1913 to combat the same things but certain waterfowl, shorebird and insectivorous, migratory birds were listed as protected. This law rested on weak constitutional grounds and was soon replaced by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted, principally, between Great Britain (for Canada) and the United States and was intended to give Federal protection to most birds in the United States but did not include crows or other birds in the Corvidae family. Various treaties were made with different countries and in 1936 the Migratory Bird and Game Mammal Treaty with Mexico was adopted. This protected certain migratory birds in the U.S. and Mexico and amended the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The Treaty was further amended on March 10, 1972. This amendment finally added 32 additional families of birds including eagles, hawks, owls and the Corvidae family…which includes the crow species.

Therefore, crow hunting regulations are handled differently and are subject to different restrictions than hunting regulations for other birds. Crows are not considered a game bird and Corvidae is not included in the list of families under the definition of game bird. However, there are two provisions specifically for taking crows under Federal regulations (50 CFR Parts 20 and 21).

Section 20.133 provides States with the opportunity to set sport-hunting seasons without notifying the service. These seasons must comply with certain restrictions:

  • Crows shall not be hunted from aircraft.
  • The hunting season or seasons on crows shall not exceed a total of 124 days during a calendar year
  • Hunting shall not be permitted during the peak crow nesting period within a State and
  • Crows may only be taken by firearms, bow and arrow and falconry

Section 21.43, which covers depredation situations, provides for the taking of crows without a Federal permit, when crows are found committing or about to commit certain depredations upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, livestock, or wildlife or when they are concentrated in such numbers as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance. For instance, a crow in the proximity of an agricultural field with documented depredation damage would likely be considered as "about to commit depredation"; whereas a crow in a forested area or on a game management area would not likely be considered in the same way. Provision would include that: a) none of the birds killed or their parts are sold or offered for sale b) anyone exercising the privileges granted by this section shall permit any Federal or State game law enforcement officer free and unrestricted access over the premises where the operations have been or are conducted and will provide them with whatever information is required by the officer concerning said operations and c) that nothing in the section authorizes the killing of such birds contrary to any state laws or regulations and that the person needs to possess whatever permit as may be required for such activities by the state concerned.

In addition, the taking of crows under the depredation order must comply with the conditions listed in Section 21.41(c). As an example, while decoys, calls, other devices to entice birds within gun range, and rifles may be allowed during a sport season, they are specifically prohibited under the depredation order by Section 21.41 (c). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) feels the basis for these restrictions is that it would be counterproductive to lure or entice crows into an area already experiencing depredation problems. Other requirements of that subsection, such as retrieval and disposition, must also be met. Certain severe depredation problems can allow exceptions through obtaining a permit by application. Be mindful that these restrictions apply when you are helping a landowner with his depredation problem. Since states can be more restrictive, please check with your state game enforcement officer first.

Well, there you have it more regulations than you can shake a stick at but all are in the best interest of the species we love so much. Shoot straight and be safe.

Copyright (c) 1999. Crow Busters. All rights reserved.