Hunting season is here and every hunter has the right to recreation but ought to be aware of the responsibilities that they need to carry out, officials say.
To be a responsible, ethical hunter a person needs to be aware of which area they plan to hunt, be confident in their ability to handle their weapon, and understand the need to obtain proof of all certification needed to hunt and tag that specific animal.
“The Fish & Wildlife associations are all good and knowledgeable but we prefer people come to us so that we can be sure the information they’re getting is reliable,” said Information Officer Craig Brown who works in Alberta Environment Sustainable Resources Development.
“The regulations are complicated and we have no trouble explaining them to people.”
Alberta is divided into five different hunting regions, so step number one when planning a trip is to visit www.albertaregulations.com and figure out which region you’re planning to travel to, as this determines the type of game that can be hunted.
Within each of those five regions, there are numbers that correspond to a division of the region, called a Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) – for example, the area surrounding Red Deer is WMU 220.
On the Alberta regulations page, if you find your region and click on the number, a small detailed map will come up that tells where boundaries for that area are.
Central Alberta falls within the Parkland Division. Animals that can be hunted here include whitetailed deer, mule deer, moose, elk and game birds that include partridge, grouse (some species), pheasant, geese and ducks.
“To get started hunting in Alberta, the first thing I would recommend doing is taking an Alberta hunter education course done by the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association, known commonly as AHEIA. That course is available online and in classrooms,” said Brown.
“Next thing you’ll need is a WIN card – wildlife identification number. They’re done through Alberta Realm – the cost for them is $8 and they’re good for five years. After that, you’re going to need a wildlife certificate that costs $28.22.”
Once a person has met the regulations for the above-mentioned certifications, they are able to begin purchasing tags for each animal that is hunted. Each tag is specific to an animal and is placed according to regulations.
“Then you look at the Alberta regions list for what is available. The chart can be a little bit hard to dissect on your own, but this is the general idea.”
According to what number you’re in, you must look at the time (darkest green) so that you can make yourself aware of what animals are safe to hunt at a time as well as what weapon can be used.
Anywhere you see black boxes beside the dates on the Alberta Regulations department that means a person must enter a draw to be able to hunt that specified animal within the dates given.
“PAL/POL is a possession acquisition license – basically, your license to purchase firearms and ammunition. If people want information on that, they can look into the Canadian Firearms Centre.
“For bow and arrow hunting, you’re going to need a bow permit and those can be purchased through realm account – $9.20,” said Brown.
“Also, a bow and arrow is not the same as hunting with a crossbow which is considered to be a firearm. Anywhere you see black boxes beside the dates on the Alberta Regulations department that means a person must enter a draw to be able to hunt that specified animal within the dates given.”
Brown said that licensing for game bird is a little bit different than big game.
Game birds in Alberta include a few different species that are grouped categorically.
Hunting any of these animals will require a WIN card and a wildlife certificate.
Bird game in Alberta is a little bit trickier, said Brown. Migratory game birds such as duck and geese require a game bird license and a federal migratory bird license that can be acquired at most Canada Post Offices.
For upland animals such as partridge and grouse, a game bird license is required. To hunt pheasant a person must acquire a game bird license and a pheasant license.
“If you’re not 100 per cent sure of the species you’re shooting at is what you have a tag for, do not fire. I will always tell people that if you aren’t sure, don’t shoot.”
He also advised hunters to remember there are other kinds of wildlife where they may be hunting that they ought to be aware of.
Responsible hunting does not end with permits and weapon awareness. It also means taking home the game that was killed or disposing of it the right way.
Any game meat that is being donated to a food bank must be inspected by a licensed butcher and cut and packaged according to Alberta safety regulations.
For more information on which facilities are licensed for this, a local butcher can provide information or if they can refer a hunter to someone who can.