Not only do many North American swan hunters go through some variations of the processes that I describe in my video, “Swan Hunting and Cooking,” there are also some necessary legal steps to be taken.
Swan permits are allocated by the Federal Governments to a few Western states in the U.S. and some Western Canadian provinces as well as to the Mid-Atlantic states. These permits must be applied for and are typically awarded in an annual drawing. In NC, permit applications must be received by October 1. If successful, the hunter is given a tag. Only one swan per permit holder may be taken in most areas.
After the hunt, whether successful or not, the holder has to report to the state on his hunt. This process insures that close accountings are made on the outcome of each year’s hunt which helps officials plan the next season. Swan are big, aggressive birds both in feeding and occupying nesting areas. If their numbers are not controlled, they crowd out other native ducks and geese. This is the reason that a controlled harvest of swan is permitted.
The NC swan that have been feeding on green vegetation and corn for months by the time I hunt them are excellent eating – the best of all waterfowl. Those taken from alkali playas in the West are not nearly so good. I have not had the opportunity to try a Mute Swan, and do not know about those.
The NC swan are Tundra (whistling) Swan. There is also an invasive species, the European Mute Swan, which is also breeding in the U.S. and often seen in ponds located on public parks. Now, some mute swan are in wild-breeding populations and are mixing with flocks of native swan in NC and other states. An increasing number of states are encouraging the harvest of these exotic swan in areas where the flocks have grown to the stage that they consist of hundreds or thousands of birds and compete with native species.
The best control measure for mute swan is to take birds from the population each year to keep them within desired limits, rather than wait until hundreds of birds must be killed to protect public health and other reasons. Swan can cause no less of a problem that non-migrating Canadian geese.
Wildlife, of any sort, has a history of not making good park or lawn ornaments; however attractive they may be.