Alberta Hunting Guide
Alberta is a transitional province within Canada. Several different ecosystems in Canada meet here and gradually merge into one another. Included in these systems are the sub-arctic boreal forest of the north, the end of the great mountain ranges of the far west, and the end of the Great Plains regions to the east and south.
Because of Alberta’s transitional nature, the government has proscribed only five big regions as far as hunting is concerned. Each region is defined by the type of ecosystem found there. To the southeast is the Prairie region, to the extreme southwest is the mountain region, the middle of the province incorporates the parkland region, the foothills region runs from the Midwest of the province and narrows towards the border with the United States, and the northern half of the province is covered by the boreal forest region.
Each of Alberta’s regions is further divided into several Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). These WMUs are what determines open season within the area, and Alberta’s regulations are set up so that hunters can easily see what species have open seasons in the area in which they are hunting.
As with other provinces, hunters from outside of Canada who wish to hunt big game in Alberta must obtain the services of a licensed guide or host in order to do so. Hunting Alberta’s game for non-residents, whether Canadian or alien, entails a higher cost than for resident hunters. Non-residents need to check regulations carefully to make sure that they have all the required licenses before going out to hunt. Canada hunting outfitters are aware of license needs and can help you plan your hunt.
The following is a description of each of the regions for hunting in Alberta and the type of game that may be hunted there.
The Prairie region of Alberta is located in the southeast corner of the province. This is a continuation of the Great Plains of the United States and the open prairies that can also be found in Saskatchewan. The prairie region is sparsely populated, with the major centers being Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. The Prairie region is heavily used as farm and rangeland.
Whitetail and mule deer have an open season throughout the Prairie region for both antlered and antlerless types. Moose also have an open season in the northern parts of the Prairie region, while in most southern WMUs elk have an open season. Again, some of the WMUs have both antlered and antlerless seasons for the larger ungulates, while others are only one sex. Hunters looking for more exotic game in the Prairie region may apply for a permit for antelope.
Throughout the Prairie region, there are limitations on days when a hunter can go out, Usually, hunting is only allowed on certain days of the week, and there is a general prohibition on hunting on Sundays.
The Parkland region incorporates the middle part of the province, including the metropolis of Calgary and Edmonton. This is Alberta’s largest population region, and the southern parts of the region are more influenced by the prairie ecosystem while in the north there is more influence from the boreal forest.
Although the human population is high, big game species thrive in this area, especially deer. The abundance of deer means that there is a long season on both antlered and antlerless in the region, with the notable exception of WMUs 728 and 729, where there is no general season open on deer. Hunters can also harvest black bear, moose, and elk throughout most of the region.
The mountain region of Alberta runs along the southwest corner in the parts of Alberta that include the Rocky Mountains. There are no large human settlements in this region, which is fairly small, with the nearest towns being in the National Parks of Banff and Jasper or Canmore to the east.
This mountainous region means that there are a variety of species available to hunt through open season, though of course not all are included in each WMU. There are open seasons on whitetail and mule deer, elk, moose, black bear, mountain sheep and cougar in most of the WMUs. Hunters may also apply for a draw which allows them a permit to hunt mountain sheep.
The Foothills region incorporates areas of Alberta where the high mountain altitudes of the Rockies fall sharply to the flat prairie and parkland regions. The foothills run along the mountain region and continue a bit further north. Canmore is located in the south of the foothills region, with Grand Prairie in the north. The region is characterized by a lot of muskeg and swampy areas and sparse human settlement, including little farming activity.
Because the mountain species can often be found in the foothills areas, the big game hunting in the Foothills region are very similar to the ones found in the mountain region, a fact reflected by the open season. There are open season on whitetail and mule deer, elk, moose, black bear, as well as cougar and mountain sheep in the areas closest to the mountains. There are open seasons on both antlered and antlerless whitetails in the region.
Northern Boreal Region
The Northern Boreal forest covers most of northern Canada and offers a transition from the Arctic to the Canadian Shield. It is flat land covered by forests and wetlands and incorporates many swamps and muskeg areas. Fort McMurray is the only large center in the region, although there is a lot of human activity interspersed with the forest as some of the world’s largest oil fields are located here.
Like the scenery, the big game hunting opportunities in the boreal region are pretty unvaried. There is a lot of game, so hunters are likely to have a successful excursion, but only whitetail and mule deer, mule deer, black bears and moose have open seasons in the area, with no additional permit opportunities available.
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