Management Messages

Message from the Honourable Jason Nixon

Hunting is a passion with deep roots in Alberta. With an abundance of wildlife species and a diverse landscape, hunting in our province offers a memorable outdoor experience, whether you hunt solo or with family or friends. As the Minister responsible for fish and wildlife, and like you, an avid outdoor enthusiast, I believe our primary focus should be on sustaining healthy game populations. This shared responsibility helps to ensure we continue to offer one-of-a-kind hunting experiences while also encouraging the next generation of hunters to participate in conservation.

Each year we strive to provide new hunting opportunities where sustainable, and the 2020 hunting regulations include additional opportunities for big game hunters. For example we have added additional hunting days to elk seasons in the Cypress Hills area and the wildlife management unit (WMU) around Calgary. We are also extending the winter cougar season until the end of March in cougar management areas where the quota has not been filled.

I am thrilled to share with you a new season for sandhill crane throughout much of east-central and southern Alberta, with dates set to match existing migratory waterfowl seasons. The timing and the area identified for this new season should not have any impact on the migration of Whooping Cranes.

For the past two years, it has been communicated that 2020 would be the start of the requirement to purchase your wildlife certificate before entering special licence hunting draws this year. This stakeholder driven change will help reduce some wait times for draw applicants who actively plan on hunting during the upcoming year, rather than just increasing their priority. Early indications are that a much higher involvement of hunters are choosing to hunt rather than just increase priority. We will monitor to ensure this change meets the intended outcome, which is to reduce draw wait times.

This is an important change as a significant portion of the wildlife certificate goes to a number of conservation efforts. I have always believed hunters are the key way to achieve game management goals and your participation will help us to get there.

I wish you all the best, and a safe and successful hunting season.

Sincerely,
Jason Nixon
Minister of Environment and Parks    


Important Changes for 2020

GENERAL

  • Applicants must purchase a Wildlife Certificate prior to applying for any Special Licence draw, including priority only applications.
  • In 2019 Alberta Environment and Parks implemented regulation requiring mandatory harvest and effort reporting on all special hunting licences purchased. When applying on your 2020 draws, hunters will be prompted to complete outstanding surveys. For the 2020 season, hunters who have not completed their harvest surveys by March 15, 2021 will be subject to a $15 survey fee that will need to be paid before being eligible to participate in the draw.
  • For hunters that carry licenses electronically (instead of paper), the AlbertaRelm APP is the only acceptable means of doing so. Tags cannot be carried electronically; they are a component part of many licences and must also be carried when required and produced to an officer upon request. Hunters can now use the AlbertaRelm App to submit their harvest and effort surveys.
  • To improve overall service, tags that are lost or stolen can now be replaced at a licence issuer for a $11.00 replacement fee per licence.
  • Please be aware that construction of the Cougar Creek Flood Project will begin in summer 2020. Alberta Parks is implementing a closure to access up Cougar Creek Canyon in the Project area. This will limit access to the upper reaches of Cougar Creek from Canmore. Alberta Parks will post a closure map and description on https://www.albertaparks.ca/advisories. Please plan accordingly.
  • A guide who personally accompanies a Non-resident or Non-resident Alien during the harvesting of bighorn sheep and cougars may complete the compulsory registration on their client’s behalf. See page 44 for additional improvements to the sheep registration process for 2020 Season.
  • The feeding of black bears, grizzly bears, cougars, wolves and coyotes is prohibited unless while legally hunting where baiting is permitted.
  • The use of unmanned aerial vehicles is prohibited for hunting or communicating for the purpose of hunting.
  • It is no longer required to register wolves which are harvested by hunters.
  • Changes have been made to the Mandatory Suspended Hunter requirements (see page 17 for details).
  • Service improvements have been made for renewal of permits for hunters with disabilities (see page 17 for details).
  • Firearm Discharge Permits required in Provincial Parks and Provincial Recreation Areas are now available online at AlbertaParks.ca (click here for details).

GAME BIRD

  • A sandhill crane season has been implemented. Refer to page 60 season dates, locations and bag limits.
  • Kimiwan Lake (WMU 523) has been designated a Game Bird Sanctuary and the hunting of game birds is prohibited.
  • The designation of Restricted Rivers and Lakes has been removed. The hunting of game birds is now permitted on areas previously designated as Restricted Lakes and Rivers. Other hunting prohibitions may apply (Federal Migratory Sanctuaries, Provincial Parks).
  • It is unlawful to hunt, guide or outfit for migratory gamebirds within 48 hours of flying within the same WMU (excluding jet and turbo prop flights).
  • An outfitted game bird licence is required when hunting using the services of an outfitter.

BIG GAME

  • The prohibition for carrying a weapon on a OHV during an open big game season has been substantially reduced. Please see page 38 for a list of WMUs where the prohibition remains in place.
  • A person may be accompanied by a dog while hunting big game in WMUs 400 – 446. The dog must be a pack dog and leashed, or within 50 m of the hunter and under direct command and control. The dog is prohibited from tracking, scenting, pursuing or chasing big game.
  • The black bear season has been extended to November 30.
  • The use of bait for the purpose of hunting black bears during the month of November is limited to meat and meat products.
  • Residents who did not receive a Special Licence authorization through the draw process are now eligible to obtain a Special Licence hunting opportunity through the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society. This opportunity is in response to the financial hardship currently experienced by the lack of international travel due to current restrictions. Current licence restrictions still apply.
  • A antlered elk (3-point or better) hunting season has been opened in WMU 524. The Archery-only season will be from August 25 - September 16 and the General (rifle) season will be from September 17 - November 30.
  • The Antlerless Elk Special Licence hunting season in WMU 212 has been expanded to include hunting on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Antlered elk in WMUs 412 and 414 will require a Special Licence.
  • The Either Sex elk hunting seasons in Cypress Hills (WMUs 116, 118, 119 and 624) have been changed to Antlered or Antlerless Elk Special Licences. Priority will automatically be transferred from Either Sex draw code to the draw code that has been applied for.
  • The antlerless mule deer season in WMU 337 has been closed.
  • Antlered mule deer in WMUs 412 and 414 during the General (rifle) season will require a Special Licence
  • Antlered mule deer in WMUs 338 – 346 will require a Special Licence during the Archery-only and General (rifle) season.
  • Antlered moose will require a Special Licence during the Archery-only hunting season in WMUs 339 – 346
  • The Antlerless White-tailed Deer seasons have been aligned with the Antlered White-tailed Deer seasons in WMUs 358, 359 and 522.
  • The winter cougar season (dogs permitted) has been extended until March 31.

PROPOSED CHANGES FOR 2021

  • A full review of licence and draw application fees is being conducted to align fees with other jurisdictions, improve efficiency and decrease overall complexity by consolidating licences and draw codes.

Definitions

The following definitions will help you understand these regulations:

Antlered - a white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose or elk having an antler exceeding 10.2 cm (4 in.) in length.

Antlerless - a white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose or elk that is not "antlered" (as defined above).

Bait - any substance that consists of a food attractant, including mineral and any representation of a food attractant.

Big Game Designated Guide - a person designated by the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society to commercially guide big game hunters in Alberta. A Designated Guide may guide not more than two Non-resident (Canadian) and Non-resident alien big game hunters at a time in any part of Alberta, provided that each Non-resident (Canadian) or Non-resident Alien has contracted the hunt through an Outfitter. The two-hunter limit does not include Resident hunters.

Big Game Outfitter - a person who is the holder of a valid Outfitter Permit, and who provides outfitting and guiding services to big game hunters in Alberta.

  • Class S Outfitter - an Outfitter who holds Non-resident (Canadian)/Non-resident Alien allocations for Trophy Sheep Special Licences. A Class S Outfitter may also hold allocations for other big game special licences.
  • Class T Outfitter - an Outfitter who holds allocations valid for Non-resident (Canadian) and Non-resident Alien big game special licences other than those for trophy sheep.  

Bird Game Designated Guide - a person designated by the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society to commercially guide game bird hunters in Alberta.

Bird Game Outfitter - a person who is the holder of a valid Bird Game Outfitter Permit issued by the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society, and who provides outfitting and guiding services to non-resident and non-resident alien game bird hunters in Alberta.

Either Sex Special Elk - authorizes the hunting of any age, size, or gender of elk in a specific WMU.

Green Area - forest lands not available for agricultural development other than grazing. In general, the Green Area is public land outside the parkland and prairie regions, or roughly in the northern half of the province and within a strip running along the Rocky Mountains and foothills.

Hunter Host - an adult resident who is the holder of a valid Hunter Host Licence. To obtain this licence, the adult must hold a valid WiN and be eligible to hold recreational hunting licences. A Hunter Host may not provide services for gain or reward, or accept a fee for services, directly or indirectly. The licence authorizes the holder (usually a relative or friend of the hunters to be hosted) to host a maximum of two non-residents (Canadian) or non-resident aliens* named on the host's licence to hunt wolf, coyote and big game throughout the province.
* Non-resident alien hunters are referred to Outfitting and Guiding Requirements for additional conditions and restrictions.

Loaded Firearm - A firearm in or on a vehicle, aircraft or boat is considered loaded if it has live ammunition in the breech, chamber or magazine. Cartridges are permitted in a magazine that is not attached to the firearm.

Non-resident (Canadian) - a person who is not a Resident (see below), but who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Canada, and who has lived in Canada for the 12-month period immediately preceding the relevant date.

Non-resident Alien - a person who is neither a Resident (see below) nor a Non-resident (see above).

OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) - any motorized vehicle designed for cross-country travel on land, water, snow, ice, marsh or swamp land, or on other natural terrain. (Exceptions: motor boats, as well as four-wheel-drive vehicles and motorcycles registered in accordance with the Traffic Safety Act.) Among OHVs, include the following kinds of vehicles when they are designed for cross-country travel as described above:

  • four-wheel drive or low pressure tire vehicles,
  • motorcycles and related two-wheel vehicles,
  • amphibious machines,
  • all-terrain vehicles,
  • miniature motor vehicles,
  • snow vehicles,
  • minibikes, or
  • any other means of transportation that is propelled by any power other than muscular power or wind.

Partner Licence - a licence issued to an eligible hunter that allows him or her to hunt a specific species in a specified WMU and season under the direct authority of a Special Licence held by another hunter successful in a draw.

Resident - a person who either

  • has his or her only or primary residence in Alberta and
    1. is a Canadian citizen or is admitted to permanent residence in Canada, or
    2. has lived in Canada for the 12-month period immediately preceding the relevant date; or
  • is on full-time service with the Armed Forces of Canada and would, if an election were held under the Elections Act (Canada), be eligible to vote in Alberta under that Act.

Special Licence - a licence obtained through a draw process, or for Non-resident and Non-resident Alien hunters, through an Outfitter-guide. It permits hunting of a specific type or class of game only in specific areas during a specified season. Click here for details.

Weapon - a firearm or any other device that propels a projectile by means of an explosion, spring, air, gas, string, wire or elastic material or any combination of those things.

White Geese - snow and Ross' geese.

WMU - Wildlife Management Unit, a geographical area prescribed in legislation.

WiN - Wildlife Identification Number, a permanent registration number issued to each hunter and angler.

Month Abbreviations
The following defines the month abbreviations used in this guide:
A – August S – September O – October
N – November D – December
J – January F – February M – March
Ap – April Ma – May Ju – June