Alta. gov’t hikes elk hunting quota at CFB Suffield base

More elk hunting tags will be issued on Canadian Forces Base Suffield near Medicine Hat in February.


It is an apparent provincial government response to concerns about a growing elk herd now estimated at 6,600 to 8,000 animals.


Tags for 500 elk will be available through a draw, and hunting will take place on the base Feb. 2-5 and Feb. 9-12.


Alberta Environment announced the additional hunting quota with the federal national defence department. The February tags are in addition to the 660 antlerless elk tags issued earlier this year for animals on the base and another 300 issued for areas immediately adjacent. Of the latter, 200 were for cows and 100 for bull elk.


The February allocation will in-volve 125 licences issued for each of the two four-day sessions. Each successful hunter can kill two antlerless elk, according to information released by Alberta Environment.


The burgeoning herd has caused complaints from ranchers whose fences, crops and stored feed are damaged when the elk leave the base. 


Jeff Lewandoski, who ranches next to CFB Suffield, said the additional licences indicate the government sees the need to control herd size, but he doubts that can be achieved through hunting.


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“It’s still not enough numbers to control the amount of births that are going to happen in spring,” he said. 


Hunters are having success with tags already issued, but Lewandoski wonders if the full complement of elk will be killed if there is heavy snow and cold in February.


He said 25 percent of the people who have tags for the current draw haven’t come to hunt.


CFB Suffield has restrictions on access for safety and security reasons. Hunters must take an orientation course and be escorted on and off the 2,700 sq. kilometre base.


Lewandoski said base officials have been more co-operative recently to accommodate hunters.


“They’ve opened it up to a bigger area where they can hunt on the base, and I guess range control is giving those hunters quite a bit of help and hints about where the elk herds are.”


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Lewandoski, who has taken on the task of seeking solutions to the elk problem, was unable to obtain a tag earlier this year.


“I’m not much of a hunter but I thought, you know, I’m going to become one.”


He applied for a tag to hunt bull elk because they cause the problems on his property. He wasn’t successful, nor could he obtain an antlerless elk tag for the area outside the base.


Lewandoski and other landowners in the region continue to think an organized cull, with elk captured and then systematically slaughtered for meat, is the best long-term solution.


As for hunting this year and in 2015, “I expect probably about 1,100 animals (will be) taken. That’s still only half of what we need to harvest in order to keep up with the birth rate.”


Duncan MacDonnell, spokesperson for Alberta Environment, said if all 1,460 draws for elk are used, it could reduce the herd by about 20 percent. 


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The lottery for the February draws runs Jan. 5-14.


  • ricksanders

    as usual this is another project totally screwed up by the alta govt.A couple of weeks ago 150 sask natives came in and shot 400 bull elk. Any alberta resident that applied is only allowed to shoot cow elk. If you wnat to cull a herd you shoot off the cow elk as they carry the calves. This hunt is a total slap in the face to alberta hunters who continually put in for bull elk draws in the province.After alberta hunters harvest the 500 cows the natives from sask are going to come back for 2 more hunts and shoot only bulls.Another slap in the face to alta hunters

    • Snuff

      Sounds a lot like jealousy to me. In a cull both sexes are or should be taken I wanted to take three cow or calf elk but unfortunately for me they were all in OOB areas so I myself being native took an old bull and that is all I took I don’t believe that we natives should have to be made to feel as though we need to explain ourselves. I/we hunt for food not for trophys but what’s available and it so happens that there are Bulls there as well.

  • Dean Harper Onion Lake Sasl

    Thank you Rick for being so understanding in helping with the cull of elk in Suffield , we come from Sask. and yes we are First Nations, let’s just be happy that all Hunters from all Nationalities come together in this culling of Big Game that helps all people