Hunting small game and pest animals

It’s easy to forget that hunting SMALL game can be every bit as exciting and challenging as hunting large game once you’ve made the switch and you’ve successfully stocked your freezer with deer meat.

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Camping in Castle Provincial Park

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If you’re looking for an amazing camping experience this summer, visit Alberta’s newest provincial park, Castle Provincial Park!

There are four excellent, but basic campgrounds are available at Beaver Mines Lake, Castle Bridge, Castle Falls and Lynx Creek. These have fire pits, vault toilets, garbage services and well graveled roads and camping pads. Recent investments this spring have improved pad size and most are rather spacious with privacy between sites. These are first-come, first-served sites. You fill out a permit and pay when you arrive.

Castle Provincial Park is also an ideal destination for campers looking for a more rugged experience, and if this is the direction you decide to go, there are a few things you need to know!

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Scary story time: over 800 of Alberta’s summer wildfires were caused by humans this year

We’re wrapping up yet another fire season on October 31 and while you’re sneaking bites of the kid’s Halloween candy, we’re reminding you to not let the cooler temperatures fool you: a wildfire can easily start in dry grass and leaves. When you’re out and about this fall, make sure your campfire is fully extinguished and keep your off-highway vehicle’s hot spots free of debris.

Photo of the burns caused by the Red Deer Creek wildfire.

The damage caused by this summer’s Red Deer creek wildfire was extensive.

So, how did we do this year? Well, while lightning was responsible for nearly 40 per cent of our wildfires this summer, almost 60 per cent – a total of more than 800 fires – were caused by humans. Although this is fewer human-caused wildfires than last year, it’s right on track with the five-year average.

Each and every one of these wildfires was preventable. And with Alberta’s population still growing (by over a quarter million people in the past five years alone), the next few years will likely see more people sharing the land than ever before. That’s why it’s crucial that we all do our part. Continue reading

Trash Talk

LandfillWould you buy four oranges and immediately throw one out? Or eight apples just to toss two into the trash?

We aren’t just comparing apples and oranges here. The fact is Canadians regularly throw out 25 per cent of our purchased produce. This waste empties our wallets but fills up landfills. Continue reading

Make landscaping easier on the environment, your wallet – and you

Woo-hoo – it’s finally summer in Alberta! All across the province, people are starting their mowers and planting their petunias.

Gardening can be a wonderful activity – but it can also create a significant amount of waste. Albertans send 500,000 tonnes of leaf and yard waste per year to landfills. That’s as heavy as it sounds – about the weight of 90,000 elephants! All the water used to keep our roses and grass green also comes at a cost.

Close-up photo of a grassy lawn

That lush green lawn might not be so “green” after all. Photo credit.

Luckily, there are lots of ways that you can make your yard ‘greener’, so to speak – and many of them will also save you money and time.

Xeriscaping keeps things local

Xeriscaping is a special type of landscaping that uses less water than traditional landscaping. Instead of exotic grasses that love water and require a lot of time to mow, xeriscaped spaces use hardy shrubs and perennials that are adapted to our climate.

Xeriscaped gardens can give us just as many benefits as regular landscaping. They can easily be designed to attract butterflies and birds – and they can incorporate fruit and berry plants to produce tasty treats all summer long. These gardens are also easy to maintain, requiring less water and less mowing time.

Photo of a fruit-bearing silver buffaloberry plant.

Native plants like silver buffaloberry are adapted to our climate – so they need less water. Photo credit: Matt Lavin.

Here are some easy steps to get you started:

  • Choose plants that are native to Alberta’s climate
  • Group plants together that have similar water needs
  • Plant drought-resistant plans in areas with south and west exposures – these areas typically receive the most sun
  • Use enough top soil (at least 15 cm) to ensure roots will grow deep and soil will retain moisture
  • Plant perennials first, then have fun with flower beds and borders—you can change these every year!

Not sure where to begin? Check out these resources: 

Not up to the full xeriscape challenge? There are lots of easy things you can do to make your garden ‘greener’ right now – many of which also save you money and time: 

  • Collect rainwater in barrels and use it to water plants.
  • Create a backyard composting station.
  • Mulch your grass clippings and spread them around after mowing – they’re like vitamins for your lawn! Check out this great City of Edmonton post for the how-to. If you must gather your clippings, try composting them rather than sending them to a landfill.
  • Design your yard to conserve water – pick plants that need less water and plant shrubs and perennials instead of grass wherever you can.
Photo of barrels collecting rainwater.

Using rainwater for gardening can lower your environmental impact and your utilities bill. Photo credit: Jan Tik.

By thinking green this summer, you can lower your water bill and spend less time mowing your lawn – which will save you both time and money. And in the summer, we’re sure you can think of better ways to use both of those things. 🙂

Your Guide to the Backcountry: Staying safe in K-Country

Protect your hay and feed – or it’s an easy meal for deer and elk

Animals like this white-tailed deer are looking for easy meals come winter. Photo credit: David Restivo.

Animals like this white-tailed deer are looking for easy meals come winter. Photo credit: David Restivo.

Looking at frozen farmers’ fields probably doesn’t make you hungry. But to animals in many parts of the province, they’re basically an all-you-can-eat buffet – and that’s a problem.

Foraging ain’t easy

Ungulates – hooved animals like deer, elk, and moose –continue to forage throughout the winter. During these harsh months, it’s more important than ever that these animals keep up their energy reserves.

At the same time, extremely cold temperatures and deep snow can make it difficult to get to the plants that they usually eat – which means that they’re looking for easy meals in other places. If they find hay and feed stored on fields, they can greatly deplete or even destroy the supply.

Shutting down the deer and elk buffet

Here are 7 easy steps farmers can take to protect their feed and hay:

  • Move bales from the field to protected areas like feed yards or storage facilities.
  • Store your grain only in protective storage bins.
  • Before freeze-up, take the opportunity to place fencing around the sites where you will be stacking bales.
  • Stack bales two tiers high to help put them out of reach of animals.
  • Place bales of straw around feed stores as a protective barrier.
  • Monitor your stored feed and hay often, to discourage animals from hanging around.
  • If you find damage to your feed stores, contact your local Fish and Wildlife office – early detection helps prevent extensive damage. Compensation for damaged stores may be available through the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation.

Hunting can help

If you’re an agricultural landholder, encouraging hunters to access your land when big game seasons are open can help keep the elk and deer populations manageable and discourage them from lingering in the area. You can get in touch with hunters who have tags for problem animals in your area on the Alberta Outdoorsmen and Alberta Sportsmen Forums, or by using our My Wild Alberta Facebook page

5 quick tips to keep wildlife watching safe and sustainable

Canada Wildlife Week is celebrated each year in April in honour of the late Jack Miner, a founding member of Canada’s conservation movement and an instrumental player in the successful efforts to save the Canada Goose from extinction. Wildlife Week gives us all an opportunity to celebrate Miner’s legacy – and do our part to make sure it continues.

Photo of Canada geese

Learning more about Alberta’s wildlife is a great way to do that – and there’s certainly a lot to learn. Alberta’s diversity – of both flora and fauna – is stunning. We’re home to more than 1800 kinds of flowers, 411 different species of birds, and 93 mammal species – plus, lots more.

This diversity creates a fascinating backyard for all Albertans to explore, and planning a wildlife watching trip is a free, easy way to do that. Responsible wildlife viewing can teach children – and Albertans of all ages – more about the ecosystems that surround us.

Here are five tips to make sure your wildlife watching adventure is safe, fun and sustainable: 

  1. Plan ahead and do your research: Learn the best times of year and best locations for viewing wildlife in your area. Our Watchable Wildlife website has a wealth of information to help you plan your outdoor adventure.  Click on any of the eight regions to find viewing sites, maps, and information on species found in the area.
  2. Be quiet and patient: Some wildlife, especially new parents, are sensitive to disruptions.
  3. Protect nature: Stay on designated trails, and keep dogs on a leash.
  4. Watch for wildlife signs: Tracks, nests, droppings, and bits of fur or feathers are helpful clues.
  5. Stay safe: Keep a respectful distance from wildlife and stay alert to avoid bears and cougars.

For more information on National Wildlife Week and their other projects, visit the Canada Wildlife Federation website.

Photo of a rock lizard sitting on a rock

Rock lizard – one of Alberta’s 8 reptile species.