Notes from the MLA: Making hunting more affordable for seniors an Albertan thing to do

Danielle Larivee
MLA for Lesser Slave Lake

It’s a seasonal ritual as familiar as back-to-school shopping, combines threshing in the fields or hurried attempts to pickle and preserve a backyard harvest.

Every fall, hundreds of local hunters throughout the Lesser Slave Lake region gear up for a chance to head outdoors and into the wild. More Albertans are hunting each year, making our province one of the only jurisdictions in North America seeing a growth in the sport.

And as your MLA for the past three years, I’ve heard from many of you how much you love the chance to get out and hunt in the waning days of summer.

It’s easy to understand the appeal. Growing up in Slave Lake, my dad’s annual hunting harvests fed our family for countless meals. And thanks to the relationships I’ve developed with my Indigenous friends, I’ve seen how hunting is key to their identity, fostering a connection with the land that spans generations.

Hunting is an Albertan thing to do. Many of us eagerly await the opportunity to spend time with family and friends in the bush, capping off another summer as we head into the shorter, colder days of fall. It’s a way of getting to know the terrain. It’s also an important wildlife management tool, keeping wildlife populations healthy and in check.

In coming weeks, with skill and a little luck, thousands of hunters will be able to fill their freezers with delicious, unprocessed, locally-sourced meat. And over a long winter, they’ll be able to share the bounty around the table with friends and family.

Under previous governments, hunting fees gradually increased over the decades, slowly rising to the point that many seniors struggle to afford their annual hunting trip. With every passing year, the temptation to just stay home gets greater.

Hunting is growing in Alberta, but fewer seniors are taking the opportunity.

That’s why our government is standing up for things that matter to Albertans, and for the 130,000 licensed hunters across the province. We’ve taken steps to ensure the nearly 20,000 Alberta seniors who hunt can get out into the bush and experience that annual ritual without worrying about whether they can actually afford it.

We don’t think the cost of a licence should be the barrier keeping a grandparent from an opportunity to spend time outside with a grandson or granddaughter. By making hunting more affordable, we’re not only letting those living on fixed incomes keep a bit more money in their pockets and reduce their grocery bills, we’re encouraging an active lifestyle.

Alberta seniors will now save nearly 80 per cent on their combination wildlife certificate and bird game permit – now only $8.25 – the same price they’ll pay for white-tailed deer licences. It’s a win for seniors and their families, and a win for the hunting community as a whole. Younger hunters get a chance to watch accumulated knowledge and experience in action.

The changes mean Alberta seniors will have one of the most affordable licences in Canada for game birds and white-tailed deer. And for those who are new to hunting, we’re also partnering with the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors’ Association to create mentorship opportunities. That way, experienced hunters have opportunities to pass along their experience and expertise in making each fall a safe and fun family time.

We made other changes too. We’ve also increased opportunities for landowners to hunt elk and deer to prevent damage on their property, minimize the chances that these animals will get into stored feed or damage fencing.

With the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease, the new regulations include more extensive testing of game heads.

Few things are as Albertan as hunting. I know how important it is to thousands of Alberta families.

That’s why we’re taking action to make it easier to enjoy Alberta’s beautiful wild spaces, and one of our most cherished annual rituals.

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