Message from the Honourable Todd Loewen
Hunting has always been integral to Alberta’s heritage, culture, and way of life, and we’re proud to invite hunters from within our province and around the world to experience all that Alberta has to offer. Whether you’re a novice hunter looking to harvest your first white-tailed deer or an avid bighorn sheep hunter ready to scale a mountain in search of an elusive ram, Alberta provides countless opportunities for adventure. Our province’s abundant and diverse natural spaces allow hunters to connect to the great outdoors while contributing to the long-term sustainability of our wildlife populations.
The ministry of Forestry and Parks aims to strike a balance between wildlife management and recreation, ensuring ample opportunities to engage with Alberta’s forests, mountains, and prairies for hunters both now and well into the future. Hunters in Alberta play a key role in achieving this balance by supporting conservation and hunting initiatives that maintain vital habitats, helping new hunters get out in the field, and assisting researchers focused on sustainable wildlife and resource management.
Earlier this year, for instance, more than $950,000 was raised through the auctioning of the Minister’s Special Licences for pronghorn, turkey, moose, mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep. This is just one of the many ways hunters contribute to our province’s environmental sustainability and conservation efforts.
As a lifelong hunter myself, I appreciate the same things that each of you do. There’s nothing better than being able to visit Alberta forests, prairies, and mountains in search of the animal of choice. We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to put game on the table and possibly bragging rights with a mature animal, for so many species, right here in Alberta.
We are proud to see growth in hunting participation in our province, and we are excited to celebrate and recognize hunters’ contributions to outdoor recreation and sustainability—values essential to Albertan culture. Lastly, I urge hunters to remember the importance of responsible hunting practices and the role that each of you play in the management of our wildlife resource. Don’t forget that harvest surveys are mandatory for all Special Licences held during the 2023 Alberta hunting season.
We wish everyone a safe, successful, and enjoyable hunting season this year!
Minister of Forestry and Parks
- Game harvest reporting is mandatory for all Special Licences and must be completed by February 15th of each year. If there are pending harvest surveys in RELM from the previous season, a $15.00 + tax surcharge will be added to your 2023 purchase in compliance with the regulation. Hunters that completed their report are entered into a draw for a prize. These results are critical for game management monitoring programs which help to ensure sustainable hunting opportunities and quotas. See link for 2022 results at: https://mywildalberta.ca/hunting/ hunters-harvest.aspx
- Hunters that kill a male sheep over the age of one year are reminded to phone ahead and schedule a registration appointment, see updated designated offices list here. Note that non-resident or non-resident alien hunters that kill a male sheep over the age of one year may have a designated guide submit the report and deliver the skull on behalf of the hunter if the designated guide accompanied the hunter while hunting the sheep. Voluntary nasal sampling of bighorn ewe heads will be conducted this year as part of disease monitoring at designated offices which is in response to the Mycoplasma ovipneumonia outbreak that occurred in Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park in February 2023. See the M. Ovi article in this guide on page 68.
- For 2023, the Supplemental Antlerless White-tailed Deer Licence is issued with two tags and this list has been updated from 2022. The FIRST tag issued with the licence (but NOT the second tag) is valid for tagging a deer hunted in one of the following WMUs: 302-303, 306, 346-347, 349, 354, and 356. Both tags are valid for tagging a deer(s) hunted in any of the following WMUs: 200-208, 214-246, 248, 250-260, 300, 304-305, 310-314, 320-322, 332-337, 344, 348, 350-353, 355, 357-360, 440-446, and 500-544. Refer to pg 66 for other common licence mistakes. These licences are a valuable strategy for increasing harvest in productive populations and reducing agricultural conflict with landowners.
- The Minister’s Special Licence raffles for Alberta residents are being administered through the Alberta Conservation Association’s website. The application period is May 30th to August 10th. For 2023, additional species have been added to this program, as well as extended season dates. The funds raised are critical to supporting many wildlife Conservation Projects in Alberta each year. See link for details: https://www.ab-conservation.com/ministers-special-licence-draw.
- Hunters choosing to hunt in the Edmonton area should ensure that they are aware of the City of Edmonton’s recent annexation of land which has reduced the area available to hunt within WMU 248 using the Strathcona White-tailed Deer Licence. Refer to the city of Edmonton bylaws for any current restrictions on weapons use or hunting.
- The black bear hunting season in WMU 212 has been extended and now ends on November 30.
- The seasons dates in Zone 2 WMUs (102-166, 210-214, 300-314) for migratory waterfowl (snow or Ross’s geese, Canada or white-fronted Geese, ducks, coots and Wilson’s snipe, and sandhill crane) have been amended to align with recent changes in federal legislation. Delays in approval of federal legislation created an outage with provincial legislation that resulted in Alberta migratory waterfowl hunters in Zone 2 losing two days of hunting in 2022. Now that federal legislation has been amended, the Alberta Wildlife Regulation has been amended accordingly and Alberta waterfowl hunters in Zone 2 have the 2 days back. The 2023 migratory waterfowl season in Zone 2 will run from September 8 – December 23. See page 60 for more information about Game Bird regulations, bag limits and season dates.
- The hunting of game birds in Winagami Lake Provincial Park may occur on the lakebed and shore (lake portion only) of Winagami Lake, excluding the shorelines of: A) Sections 23, 26 and 35 of township 76, range 18, west of the 5th meridian. B) Section 2 of township 77, range 18, west of the 5th meridian. C) Section 36 of township 76, range 18, west of the 5th meridian. And D) Sections 1, 2 and 11 of township 77, range 19, west of the 5th meridian.
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. A Designated Guide may guide up to three non-resident or non-resident aliens when hunting black bear. 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.
Legal Hunting Firearm
- Must comply with big game and bird game restrictions listed under General Regulations (see pages 28/29);
- Can have any stock design or stock composition;
- Is not limited by the energy its projectile(s) produces (see page 29 for air-pistol velocity limits);
- Can have any bore or caliber size except for restrictions listed under General Regulations (see pages 28/29);
- Can hold any amount of ammunition except for restrictions listed under General Regulations (see pages 28/29); and
- Can have any action other than fully automatic.
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
- is a Canadian citizen or is admitted to permanent residence in Canada, or
- 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.
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