Delta Waterfowl Helps Establish Sandhill Crane Season in Alberta

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA — A decade of advocacy by Delta Waterfowl has helped secure a historic opportunity for Alberta hunters: In September, the province will open its first sandhill crane season. Crane hunting will largely overlap with the regular waterfowl season.

Delta’s frequent correspondence and participation in stakeholder meetings with the Alberta Environment and Parks department, in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Service, was essential to the effort. Protecting, enhancing and creating new hunting opportunities for North American waterfowlers are hallmark objectives of Delta’s Defending the Hunt program.

“The Duck Hunters Organization acted on behalf of our members in Alberta, who have keen interest in pursuing sandhill cranes,” said Jim Fisher, Delta’s senior director of Canadian conservation and hunting policy. “Sometimes you need the stars to align to affect change, and that’s what occurred with the province’s current, pro-hunting administration. We also had a strong ally in Dr. Jason Caswell, a former Delta Waterfowl student researcher who serves as a wildlife management policy staffer for Alberta.”

Alberta joins Manitoba and Saskatchewan, both of which have allowed hunting of the large, prehistoric-looking birds since 1971. Manitoba and Saskatchewan’s combined sandhill harvest totaled only a couple thousand birds in the initial seasons, but participation in crane hunting has grown along with the mid-continent sandhill population — a 2019 estimate indicated 945,996 birds, about double the management goal. In 2018, Manitoba and Saskatchewan hunters bagged 13,000 of the delicious cranes.

“Based on the other prairie provinces, I expect strong participation in Alberta, both in terms of hunters actively targeting sandhills or pursuing them as bonus birds while hunting ducks and geese,” said Fisher. “Delta is also working to establish a limited crane season in Ontario, given the growth of the eastern sandhill population. Creating new hunting opportunities is key to Delta’s mission of securing the future of waterfowl hunting.”

Other favorable changes to Canada’s migratory bird hunting regulations include an extension of Manitoba’s spring Canada goose season, targeting an overabundant population, through the end of March; expanded spring snow goose hunting areas in eastern Ontario; an increased daily limit of three Canada geese in southwestern Ontario’s popular WMU 94; a separate merganser limit in Labrador and a three-week later start date for Newfoundland’s special merganser season.

A complete list of amended migratory bird hunting regulations are available in the 2020 Canada Gazette.

For more information, contact Jim Fisher at (877) 667-5656 or jfisher@deltawaterfowl.org.

Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and secure the future of duck hunting in North America.