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Ensuring safe and humane hunting in Alberta

The Government of Alberta is updating provincial hunting regulations to specify what categories of equipment are appropriate for hunting big game.

Beginning in the 2018 hunting season, firearms and equipment that are legal for use will be limited to rifles, shotguns and conventional archery gear. Other tools, including spears and spear-throwing tools such as atlatls, will not be allowed under the new regulations.

The vast majority of Alberta hunters already use permitted equipment to hunt in a safe, responsible and humane way. These changes will discourage reckless actions and ensure big game animals are not subjected to unnecessary suffering.

“Responsible hunting is part of Alberta’s cultural heritage, playing an important role in our province’s wildlife management and conservation efforts. Albertans know that good hunting is safe hunting. Modernizing our hunting regulations will ensure safety and prevent game from experiencing undue suffering.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

The regulations will also set new standards for ammunition by requiring shotgun pellets to be larger than .24 inches in diameter. This means hunters must use .24-calibre buckshot or larger when hunting big game to ensure a quick and effective kill.

“As an education-based group that supports legal and ethical harvest of wild game in Alberta, it is part of our mission to educate hunters to comply with all provincial hunting regulations. We support the government in this recent update to the regulations regarding equipment appropriate for hunting big game.”

Robert Gruszecki, president, Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association

Alberta Environment and Parks has received more than 3,900 responses from the public to help inform the regulations amendment process. The majority supports changes that would prohibit the use of spears in big game hunting.  

Quick facts

  • Of the roughly 118,000 people who hunt big game in Alberta each year, more than 90 per cent are Alberta residents.
  • While the vast majority of hunters use firearms, roughly 18 per cent purchase bowhunting permits.
  • Weapons legal for use in the upcoming hunting season will include conventional bows and arrows, crossbows and bolts, rifles and ammunition, muzzle-loading firearms, shotguns and ammunition.
  • Using a weapon not on the permitted list would contravene Section 40 of the Wildlife Act. The maximum penalty under the act is $50,000 in fines, one year in jail, or both. If a threatened or endangered species is involved in the offence, the maximum penalty would be doubled.
  • The new regulations will not interfere with the rights of Indigenous hunters to practise traditional hunting methods.

Media inquiries

Government of Alberta