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 with Rob Miskosky

Pheasants, Draws and Fish

A  hot item this past while has been Alberta’s pheasant release program, or lack thereof, that has gathered the attention of pheasant hunters across the province. However, this issue may be resolved prior to the distribution of this magazine. At least that is my hope. If such is the case, and I reserve the right to mention, “seldom is that the case”, then I apologize for wasting ink.
The provincial government has been purchasing pheasants for release for many years. In fact, in the 1980’s, as many as 70,000 pheasants were released in a single year. But that number has now dwindled to less than 14,000 and may be zero this year if a solution to a lack of funds can’t be found.

The “financial” flag has been raised for a long time now regarding SRD funding cuts, but the gravity of the pheasant situation didn’t reach fever pitch until then Minister of Finance and former Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Ted Morton, saved the program for 2011 by finding funds for the purchase of some 13,900 birds. Since then, the release program has been in a state of flux with a lack of budget being the culprit.

Many Alberta pheasant hunters are even asking for hefty increases to their pheasant hunting licence, as much as $45.00 from the current $15.00 cost to $60.00, with the extra funds going to the purchase of pheasants for release. Essentially, pheasant hunters are asking to pay for the program themselves.

Will there be a pheasant release program in 2012? The author believes so. - photo courtesy Canadian Pheasant Company

As I write this, a provincial election is looming and like most elections candidates are doing what they do best, campaigning. And with campaigning comes promises. Much to the delight of pheasant hunters, the release program has suddenly found legs in the form of those promises. But promises won’t put pheasants on the ground, money will.

Recently, Upland Birds Alberta (UBA) spokesman, Ken Bailey, informed me that negotiations with SRD are ongoing and a decision could be reached shortly, suggesting it was looking positive but...

As these discussions take place between UBA and SRD, Alberta’s pheasant release program has become a popular matter with Alberta’s politicians. And this can only bode well for the near 6000 pheasant hunters who purchased licences in 2011; a far cry short, however, of the 18,134 hunters that walked the hedgerows in 1984, the highest number of “resident” pheasant hunters in a single year in Alberta, according to Verna Wolfram, Revenue and Commercial Services Coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Division of SRD.

The UBA hopes the number of pheasant hunters will increase once the number of available birds for release increases, which in turn should bring back the economic benefits small-town southern Alberta once received when the smoothbore crowd was at its peak.

Keep your fingers crossed.

No Draw Priorities Mailed in 2012

That is correct, as announced in the 2011 Alberta Hunting Draws Booklet, “Starting 2012 the Hunting Draw Booklet and priorities will no longer be mailed directly to past draw applicants. An email will be sent to advise applicants when the booklet will be available at Fish and Wildlife District offices, Licence Issuers or online.”

What this means is that if you are unsure of what your draw priorities are, you will be required to either login to (see advertisement on page 13) and surf your way to your priorities, or call 1-888-944-5494 or email

In the past, mailing of the draw booklets to individuals was an expensive endeavour for a fish and wildlife division that seldom receives a budget increase when the big money is being doled out. This money, $100,000.00 worth, could be further used for more important programs.

If you haven’t used the Alberta Relm website before, it’s a simple process to register (see pages 10-12 of the 2011 Alberta Hunting Draws, which can be downloaded at and then purchase your licences and enter the hunting draws as well as the walleye draws. You can also renew or purchase your WIN card and print off your purchased licences at whim.

Calling Lake Regulations Error

As someone who has worked closely with our fish and wildlife division publishing our hunting, fishing and trapping regulations, as well as the hunting draws and walleye draws booklets, I can attest to the magnitude of the job as it relates to each water body or WMU in Alberta. There is a lot to look at and quite often it can become mind numbing, which can result in the odd error.

Generally speaking, these errors are minor in nature and easily fixed, especially when it relates to a water body where signage can be posted at public boat launches etc.

In the 2012 Alberta Sportfishing Regulations, such an error occurred where Calling Lake is concerned. Be advised that the regulations for Calling Lake in the hardcopy version of the 2012 Alberta Sportfishing Regulations are not correct. A corrected version can be found online at A notice is posted on the home page and the correction made within the NB1 lake listings of the website where Calling Lake is listed. ■

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