On 2017-03-30 we co-hosted a Wildlife Talk with the High River Fish and Game Association and brought in Brett Boukall, a senior wildlife biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), to discuss big game population trends in the Bow River district. The meeting was well attended with about 30 participants from the ODFGA, HRFGA, Town of Okotoks, Western Wheel, and local landowners.
The general message is that big game populations are up across most of the Bow district, providing excellent hunting opportunities. The AEP is working to update their species counts by conducting additional and more effective aerial surveys in the next few years.
Alberta Wildlife statistics are available here:
- Aerial Surveys: http://aep.alberta.ca/fish-wildlife/fishing-hunting-trapping/aerial-wildlife-survey-reports.aspx
- Hunter Harvest: http://mywildalberta.com/hunting/hunters-harvest.aspx
Elk populations are continuing to increase and spread east across Alberta. WMU 212 (Calgary Bowzone) has very high elk populations above the AEP target and they are working on strategies to reduce this population through additional hunting opportunities and game management.
Predator populations are increasing with the the big game populations. Alberta's predator hunting/control regulations will remain quite liberal, allowing for hunts and landowner livestock protection.
Urban deer populations (ex: resident Okotoks deer) are not managed by AEP and it's up to the town to propose a plan to the Province. Brett recommended strategies using city bylaws, forage and access management, and other more intensive deer removal/relocation methods.
There are no significant hunting regulation changes expected in 2017, but Brett was taking feedback on a proposal to put WMU 316 mule deer bucks on a special license draw season. All of the zones surrounding 316 are on draw, which is funneling hunting pressure into 316.
Here are a few things you can do to help out AEP and improve wildlife management:
- Fill out your hunter harvest survey accurately every year. They rely heavily on these statistics.
- If you ever see a blind moose walking in a tight circling pattern or white moose, please report it to AEP or Alberta Fish and Wildlife.
Overall the meeting was very informative and Brett answered a lot of questions from the audience. It's great to the see that AEP is engaging us as stakeholders and taking our feedback.
Thanks to everyone that came out and thanks Pat for organizing!
Thanks to Dave Osmars for putting together a report for the Western Wheel, which they published on 2017-04-26. Here's the article.