This blog series is targeted towards first time hunters and focuses on safe and sustainable hunting in Alberta. Check out a list of all the topics in the series here. This is the third article in the series, and focuses on wildlife certificates, licences, tags and the draw system.
Now that you have:
- Educated yourself on Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and determined where you want to hunt;
- Determined your eligibility to hunt in Alberta by reading the Regulations;
- Acquired a Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) card; and
- Completed an Alberta Conservation and Hunter Education Course, or; have previously held a licence authorizing recreational hunting in Alberta or another jurisdiction.
It’s time to discuss three important pieces of paperwork:
- Wildlife certificates
Before we get started, as a new hunter it’s important to always refer to the regulations and hunting draws booklet as the final authority for licensing, draws and hunting information. At the end of this blog a resource and contact list is provided.
A blog that covers regulations for youth hunters in Alberta will be posted later in the series.
All hunters in Alberta are required to purchase a Wildlife Certificate. These funds are invested back into sustainable hunting in Alberta, including supporting the Alberta Conservation Association and licence allocation and administration.
Wildlife certificates can be purchased from licence issuers. Note: a wildlife certificate is not required prior to entering draws (we’ll explain draws in a bit).
Licences and Tags
Hunting licences usually become available in August. There are different licences depending on what animals you want to hunt.
Take a look at the hunting regulations for the specific licence you’re interested in. There will be a listing of different licence types and restrictions that apply. Big game special licences and Merriam’s turkey licences are allocated through a draw system. You can order licences online at www.albertarelm.com or pick them up at a licence issuer.
If you are hunting migratory game birds, in addition to the provincial game bird licence you must also purchase a federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit, which can be purchased online or at a local Canada Post Office.
Tags are used to mark your kills when out hunting. They link your kills to your hunting licence and show that you’re hunting legally. They come with your licence when purchased at a licence issuer. If you’re obtaining your licence online, you will need to first have a numbered green Alberta hunting tag. Tags can be ordered by emailing the RELM Help Desk, or can be picked up by visiting an Alberta Fish and Wildlife District Office or local Licence Issuer.
Each year in June, Alberta Environment and Parks holds draws to allocate the available special licences for various species of big game and Merriam’s turkey in Alberta.
Hunters in Alberta experience an unparalleled diversity in quality hunting opportunities. To effectively manage this diversity, some hunting opportunities for certain species are allocated by offering a limited number of special licences. This to help protect species that otherwise couldn’t withstand the hunting pressure of an open general season. The draw system benefits hunters by improving hunter success, reducing landowner conflicts, and reducing hunter density.
The draw system is a modified-random process that rewards persistence through a priority system. Your priority level for a particular special licence is based on the number of years you have unsuccessfully applied since the last time you obtained it or since 1990, whichever is most recent.
There are two primary methods for applying/purchasing draws:
Online: Visit http://www.albertarelm.com to apply for draws beginning in June. You will need your WIN card number. On the website, you can also view your licences for the last 5 years, special draw priorities, and confirm that your address and phone number are correct.
Purchase from Licence Issuers: The Point of Sale (POS) method offers the feature of a paper copy for your records. You can find licence issuers in your area online.
When too few people apply for special licences in some WMUs the undersubscribed special licences are made available for sale to eligible hunters online and at licence issuers. This typically happens around August. For more details, please visit mywildalberta.com.
This covers the main pieces of paperwork required to hunt in Alberta. This work helps ensure that hunting is managed sustainably in Alberta, and enables us to keep the hunting tradition alive. Make sure you check out our next blog, which will tackle rules for safe, responsible hunting.
Helpful information sources and contact info:
- Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association (AHEIA) – Provides hunter education and training
- albertarelm.com – Website for hunters and anglers that serves as a portal for WIN cards, licencing, draws and more
- RELM Call Centre: 1-888-944-5494
- mywildalberta.com – Provides key information on hunting, fishing and trapping in Alberta
- My Wild Alberta Facebook page – Provides timely updates related to hunting, fishing and trapping in Alberta, and a platform to connect with other Albertans who enjoy similar interests
- Alberta hunting regulations – Can also be picked up at licence issuers or Fish and Wildlife Offices
- Hunting draws booklet – Can also be picked up at licence issuers or Fish and Wildlife Offices