With the 2019-20 waterfowl season just weeks away, the new Alberta hunting regulations reveal the legal hunting age to hunt game birds in the province has been lowered to 10 years old.
“This is the result of an effort that Delta’s been pushing in Canada for about 15 years,” said Jim Fisher, senior director of Canadian conservation and hunting policy, for Delta Waterfowl. “We’ve seen a growing number of successes on this front of which the new Alberta regulation is the most recent example. Lowering the age from 12 to 10 is an important move in Delta’s work to recruit new hunters.”
As cited in the Alberta 2019 Hunting Regulations, “A person must be at least 10 years of age to hunt under the authority of a Youth Game Bird license. Before obtaining any license, all first-time hunters must successfully complete the Alberta Conservation and Hunter Education Course.”
According to Dr. Jason Caswell, provincial game bird specialist and leader of the Alberta Game Policy Advisory Council, the new regulation applies to all young hunters. Non-residents would be required to present a hunter education certification or proof of holding a previous license from their home state or province.
“I think this is a monumental step in a positive direction. It’s absolutely where we need to go,” Caswell said. “This has been a Delta-led initiative for a long time. Jim Fisher worked hard on this, and the timing was right to make it happen. The change is really good news.”
Fisher cites other provinces that have led the way in expanding hunting opportunities to youths and their families.
“In British Columbia, the hunting age has been 10 years old since the mid-1980s,” he said. “More recently, Manitoba went from 12 to 10 in 2016. One of the biggest policy successes saw Newfoundland go from age 16 to age 12 in 2018. And now we’re pleased Alberta has joined the movement, too. We hope it won’t be long before others follow suit.”
Waterfowl hunter numbers have declined dramatically in Canada since the 1970s, and lowering the hunting age should help boost hunter recruitment.
“We are proud of the hard work of Alberta’s provincial leadership to change the hunting age, as well as of Delta’s role in expanding hunting opportunities across Canada for youth and their families,” said Dr. Scott Petrie, Delta’s CEO and chief scientific officer. “We need to introduce youngsters to hunting at an earlier age, before other activities pull them out of the fields and marshes.” — Bill Miller