WHEREAS Alberta ungulate populations, primarily elk, are increasing rapidly due to current wildlife management policies; and
WHEREAS the increased elk population is responsible for damage to hay land, pasture, forages and other crops primarily located in agricultural areas; and
WHEREAS the introduction of an Antlerless Elk Season in many of the Wildlife Management Units (WMU), was to control elk populations; and
WHEREAS landowners are currently required to apply in the regular draw process if they wish to obtain an Antlerless Elk Licence; and
WHEREAS if the landowner is unsuccessful in the draw, they may apply for a Landowner Special Licence which requires ownership of a minimum of 160 acres and is only valid for the single season applied for; and
WHEREAS first parcel out subdivisions restrict the landowner’s ability to obtain a Landowner Special Licence;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) amend the Landowner Special Licence criteria to remove the requirement to enter in the draw process and that landowners of agricultural property with less than 160 acres qualify for the special licence; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that ESRD permit Landowner Special Licences to be used in any declared season within that Wildlife Management Unit.
Non-migrating herds of elk are becoming established in Alberta’s agricultural areas. These local populations are destroying both standing and stockpiled forages intended for use as cattle feed. The damage is compounded by the fact that the elk trample and defecate on unconsumed forage rendering it unpalatable.
Limited effective control measures are available for producers dealing with the dilemma of these non-native herds. Amending hunting regulations in Agricultural zones will reduce the number of non- native elk, while having no effect on elk populations in their traditional habitat.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development is responsible for preventing and mitigating ungulate damage by providing producers with deterrent, intercept feed, temporary fencing, and in chronic cases, permanent fencing materials. While these techniques are effective for small areas such as stored feed areas, this approach does not work over large areas.
It is assumed that the introduction of an Antlerless Elk Season in many of the Wildlife Management Units (WMU), was to control increasing elk populations. Presently, landowners are required to apply in the draw process if they wish to obtain an Antlerless Elk Licence. If they are unsuccessful in the draw, they may apply as a person named on title on a parcel of 160 acres or more. They may then be eligible for a Landowner Special Licence. This licence is only useable on the titled land and during the season applied for. With multiple hunting seasons available in many WMU’s, the Landowner Special Licence should be valid during any identified season.
With increasing growth and development pressures in Alberta it is common for 160 acre quarter sections to be subdivided with a first parcel out. First parcel out subdivisions typically only remove 5-10 acres from the Agricultural quarter. The remaining parcel (150 acres plus) is typically utilized for agricultural purposes in the production of crop or forage. These landowners would no longer qualify to apply for a Landowners Special Licence on the 150 acre parcel which could be directly affected by depredation by elk.
As the licences are only valid on one parcel of titled land, landowners would not be inclined to apply if elk were not an issue on their land. However, as elk herd movement is unpredictable landowners who did not apply for the regular draw often experience elk depredation. It is suggested that the requirement for landowners to apply for the draw be removed, and allow landowners more flexibility to apply for the special licence when it is needed. In the main elk WMU’s the Antlerless Elk Special Licence is only valid in one of the specified seasons, however there are 2-5 seasons depending on the WMU. If the object of the draw is to reduce the elk population it would make sense that measures should be in place to provide every opportunity for success. From reviewing the 2013 harvest estimates (see reference link) it is clear that success rates can be quite low, and current regulations may not be achieving the desired level of elk population management in Agricultural areas.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Environment and Parks: Environment and Parks will be developing a new game allocation policy through a collaborative process with the Alberta Game Management Advisory Group, of which the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties is a member. Objectives for landowner licenses will be discussed through this process. Environment and Parks values the perspective of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties in informing this program as it goes forward.
Currently, Environment and Parks is changing some requirements related to the landowner special licenses. For 2015/16, individuals who apply for either antlered or antlerless elk special licenses and are unsuccessful can now apply for antlerless elk landowner licenses where they are eligible.
Although the response indicates a willingness to address the issue of landowner special licenses through a new game allocation policy, at this point there has been no policy change to address the resolution request. As such, this resolution has been deemed Intent Not Met, and will be revisited as the collaborative process for developing a new game allocation policy takes place.