Elk. Photo submitted.

What you need to know as hunting season begins

As of Sept. 1, bowhunting season begins in Central Alberta.

While many activities and events have been put on hold this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one season that is arriving on time and with familiar restrictions—hunting season.

In fact, hunting season provides the perfect opportunity for a social distanced, pandemic safe activity for those who enjoy the sport.

Starting Sept. 1, 2020 bowhunting season begins in Central Alberta. Here are a few things to know before you head to the woods.

For the Parkland Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 728, 730, and 936, hunting for big game on Sunday’s will be prohibited. In addition during this archery only portion of hunting season, hunters can only use a bow and arrow. To use a firearm or crossbow in addition to the bow and arrow hunters will have to wait until general hunting season.

For the majority of big game for the archery only portion of the season, hunting is open from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31 or Nov. 30.

The dates for general hunting vary based on the type of big game.

This year the Government of Alberta has put out a few changes that you need to be aware of for the 2020 hunting season:

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.

• 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.

• 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: Hunters and anglers in Alberta must have a 10-digit Wildlife Identification Number (WiN) to apply for draws, purchase wildlife certificates, licences and replacements. Please keep your information up to date; address changes can be made online or at an issuer.

• Service improvements have been made for renewal of permits for hunters with disabilities: Eligible individuals may obtain a special permit or licence relating to off-highway vehicle (OHV) use, discharging a weapon from an OHV and cross-bow use during archery-only seasons. Service improvements have been made for those medically certified with permanent injuries allowing renewal of all permits online at albertrelm.com. Contact a Fish and Wildlife office for more information or online at mywildalberta.ca.

• Firearm Discharge Permits required in Provincial Parks and Provincial Recreation Areas are now available online at AlbertaParks.ca

Big Game:

• The prohibition for carrying a weapon on a OHV during an open big game season has been substantially reduced.

• A person may be accompanied by a dog while hunting big game in WMUs 400 – 446 (Mountian WMUs). 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 Nov. 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.

• 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. L

• 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.

The Government of Alberta states that it is the hunter’s individual responsibility to ensure they are hunting within the parametres and regulations of their WMUs.

For more information on the Alberta Hunting Regulations and WMUs, you can visit https://albertaregulations.ca/pdfs/hunting-regs/Big-Game-Seasons.pdf.

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