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Big Game Allocation Decisions

The Alberta Game Policy Advisory Council (AGPAC) is a diverse group of individuals and organizations with a wide range of interests related to game management policy and legislation in Alberta. At the table are Alberta Environment and Parks, the Justice and Solicitor General, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch, the Science and Academic community, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties and the Alberta Beef Producers, as well as several recreational hunting organizations including the Alberta Fish and Game Association, Alberta Bowhunters Association, and the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society.

Mule deer special licences for landowners have increased alarmingly.

One of the main purposes of the AGPAC is to look at the allocation of big game hunting opportunities, a contentious issue among the hunting community for sure.

With such a large group at the table, the AGPAC chose to form a second group called the Big Game Allocation Policy Sub-Committee (BGAPSC), whose job was to review existing allocation policies and to make recommendations to the allocation process of Alberta’s big game (black bear, cougar, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and mountain goat) to the AGPAC.

Many resident hunters feel they’ve been given the short end of the stick with the allocation of big game, even though current policy is for a harvest allocation of 90 percent resident. Unfortunately, in some cases, the harvest allocation for resident hunters has fallen below 90 percent. Of course, blame always lands at the feet of non-residents, non-resident alien hunters and interestingly, landowners.

In 1991, a Landowner Special Licence was created to give landowners the opportunity to hunt an animal on their property if they were unsuccessful in the draw process for that animal. The idea was to foster positive landowner relationships with hunters, as well as the wildlife that resides on their property. It was hoped that landowners would allow access to their property to other hunters, conserve wildlife habitat on their property, and alleviate any depredation problems that existed on their lands with the generosity of the Landowner Special Licence.

Unfortunately, there has been no way to determine whether any of the aforementioned has actually happened. However, what has been determined is an uptake in the allocation of antlered mule deer licences to landowners. In fact, provincially, 11 percent of the available antlered mule deer quota is now allocated to landowner licences. In more than 50 percent of the 91 WMUs where landowner licences are issued for mule deer, the number rises to more than 20 percent and in some WMUs that number rises to 38 percent of all antlered mule deer licences sold. The result has been a reduction in available mule deer harvest opportunities for resident hunters and the outfitted hunting industry, as well as added difficulty to our wildlife managers when trying to manage the mule deer resource.

The BGAPSC feels that by discontinuing the mule deer special licence for landowners, it would put 1200 antlered mule deer licences back into the draws.

This is just one of several recommendations made by the BGAPSC and given to the AGPAC for consideration. Member groups of AGPAC are now being asked to discuss the recommendations with their membership for input, whether that is to support, not support, or support with changes.

The Alberta Game Policy Advisory Council will meet again in December of this year to finalize the recommendations. Once that is complete, the finalized recommendations will be posted for public comment. ■

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