By Collin Gallant
Alta. Newspaper Group
The annual elk hunt at CFB Suffield is planned to go ahead as usual – and with an increased number of tags – despite other military bases in Alberta being closed to public.
Officials at the base confirmed that while they are still finalizing details, they expect to welcome hunters with conditions this fall and winter.
A series of five, three-day windows in November and January were scheduled in the special draws section of Alberta hunting regulations published last May.
Since then however, some military facilities, such as CFB Wainwright, has specifically barred access to all prospective hunters as a general pandemic response.
Alberta Environment officials told the News this week, that they expect the hunt at CFB Suffield to proceed, though they are in discussions with defence officials about the issue.
Base officials confirmed they are working to accommodate the hunt.
The special draw is in place largely to control population of elk that nearby landowners say have become a nuisance, destroying fences and crops and causing hazardous driving conditions.
Last year’s hunt was completed in February, about one month before the coronavirus pandemic led to stricter measures for general entry to military facilities.
Alberta issued about 800 tags in total for elk in areas on and surrounding the base for the 2019-20 season, but officials say that actual harvest was lower, though no exact figures were provided.
In response, the number of licences issued this year will rise, though by an undisclosed number.
Last year, 100 licences for antlered animals and 200 without were issued for off-base hunting. On-base tags totalled 40 antlered and 230 without antlers.
On-base regulations have been strict since the hunt began. Hunters must check in and out each day, register their weapons, attend a pre-hunt safety meeting and remain in designated areas. No alcohol or off-road vehicles are allowed. All hunters must be at least 18 years old.
Military officials also warn that sessions may be cancelled without notice.
This year’s hunt dates are set for Nov. 16-18, and Nov. 23-25, 2020, and Jan. 11-13, Jan. 18-20, and Jan. 25-27, 2021.