2012 hunting forecast: Alberta
Deer: Throughout much of the prairie and east-central parkland, white-tailed deer populations are still rebounding from high mortality during the 2010–11 winter. However, while the overall population declined in these areas, there are still good numbers of trophy deer. The northern parkland and boreal fringe wildlife management units did not suffer as much winterkill and continue to produce quality trophies. The best opportunity for trophy mule deer continues to be in the prairie WMUs (100 series). The number of special licences available for 2012 will be below the five- year average as the population rebounds. The winter of 2011–12 was extremely mild in these areas, which will greatly enhance the recovery of deer populations.
Moose: The best opportunity for trophy moose is in the secluded WMUs in the northern part of the province. Areas with limited and/or difficult access will provide the best opportunity for big moose. Note: Moose archery hunting in WMUs 337 and 338 now requires a special licence, obtainable through the draw process.
Elk: The best opportunity for a trophy bull is to get one of the limited special licences (resident only) for the prairie WMUs. Note: Archery hunting for antlered elk in WMUs 416 to 422, 428 and 430 now requires a special licence obtained by draw.
Bears: There’s quality black bear hunting throughout northern Alberta. The boreal region’s 500 series WMUs continue to be the best spots to shoot a big bruin. In total, hunters took 1,466 black bears last year, with the greatest number coming from WMU 514. There is still no grizzly bear hunt in Alberta.
Upland birds: Heavy spring rain over parts of southern Alberta has reduced overall productivity of nesting upland birds. Populations have remained locally abundant where nesting attempts were successful and spring conditions weren’t excessively wet.
Waterfowl: Arctic goose populations are stable or increasing, with the number of resident geese higher than last year. Breeding duck populations are up throughout the province from last year’s high, promising another fantastic waterfowl hunting season.