Hunting regulations for migratory birds: Alberta 2017 to 2018


The information presented here is a summary of the law. If there is a discrepancy between the law and this summary, the law prevails. For complete information on fines, general prohibitions, permitted hunting methods and equipment, the requirement to have adequate means to retrieve birds immediately, restrictions on the use of bait, the description of hunting zones, and other restrictions on hunting, please refer to the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and Migratory Birds Regulations. These, along with other useful information for hunters, can be found on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website, or you may contact:

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
9250-49 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6B 1K5
Tel.: 1-800-668-6767

You are required to possess a valid federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit with a Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp to hunt migratory birds in Canada. This permit and stamp are valid in all provinces and territories. Most provinces and territories have additional licence requirements for hunting migratory birds and/or to carry firearms. To know what you require, and if there are further restrictions for hunting migratory birds, please verify the applicable regulations for the province/territory where you will be hunting. Note that all required permits and licences must be in your possession while you are hunting.

Hunting zones

Alberta hunting zones
Alberta hunting zones
Long description for Alberta's hunting zones

Map showing the boundaries of the 8 Hunting Zones in the province of Alberta with Zone 1 in the North-East corner and Zone 2 in the North-West corner. Going South from Zones 1 are Zones 3, 5 and 7 and going South from Zone 2 are Zones 8, 4 and 6, with the southern boundary of Zones 6, 7 and 8 following along the US-Canada border.

Hunters are advised to pay particular attention to the Alberta Hunting Guide to ensure that they are hunting for the correct species in the correct wildlife management unit during the permitted times and dates. Note that these zone numbers do not correspond to regions as presented in the Guide. If you need more information to determine in which zone you are located, please visit: Alberta Guide Hunting Regulations


The Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit is now available online on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website

. Purchase and print your permit from the comfort of home.

Consultation process and migratory birds regulatory reports

The hunting provisions of the Migratory Birds Regulations are reviewed by Environment and Climate Change Canada, with input from the provinces and territories, as well as a range of other interested stakeholders. Environment and Climate Change Canada has developed a consultation process for establishing hunting regulations for migratory birds, and publishes the Migratory Birds Regulatory Report Series that can be found on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website.

New enforcement tool, fine regime, and sentencing provisions

In June 2017, the Environmental Violations Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations came into force and administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) are now available to game officers to enforce designated violations of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 (MBCA) and its associated regulations. In addition, amendments to the fine regime and sentencing provisions of the MBCA and the regulations necessary to complete the fine regime, the Designation of Regulatory Provisions for the Purposes of Enforcement (Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994) Regulations, came into force on July 12, 2017. The amendments aim to ensure that court-imposed fines more accurately reflect the seriousness of environmental offenses. The new fine regime will be applied by courts following a conviction pursuant to the MBCA or its associated regulations. Under the new fine regime, when designated offenses are contravened, the offender upon conviction, is subject to minimum and higher maximum fines. For more information on AMPs and the new fine regime, please visit the Environmental Enforcement Act.

Waterfowler Heritage Days provide young hunters who are minors (under 18 years of age) with the opportunity to practise hunting and outdoor skills, learn about wildlife conservation, and reinforce safety training in a structured, supervised environment. Licensed adult hunters who serve as mentors have an opportunity to pass on their considerable skills and knowledge by offering guidance and advice to younger hunters. The following rules are in effect:

  • to participate, young hunters do not require the federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit;
  • young participants must comply with all existing safety and licensing requirements found in the Firearms Act and provincial hunting regulations;
  • participants must be accompanied by a licensed mentor (who is not a minor);
  • mentors may not hunt or carry a firearm, and may accompany no more than two young hunters; and
  • only young hunters may hunt when Waterfowler Heritage Days fall outside of the regular open seasons.

In Alberta, non-toxic shot must be used to hunt migratory game birds. Within National Wildlife Areas, the possession of lead shot is prohibited for all hunting, including the hunting of migratory birds and upland game birds. Hunters should consult provincial or territorial regulations for additional restrictions.

Open seasons and waterfowler heritage days in Alberta
Area Waterfowler Heritage Days
Ducks, geese, coots and snipe
Open Seasons in Alberta
Ducks, geese, coots and snipe
Zones Table Footnote* 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8 Sept. 2 to Sept. 3, 2017 Table Footnotea Sept. 1 to Dec. 16, 2017 Table Footnotea, Table Footnoteb
Zones Table Footnote* 5, 6 and 7 Sept. 2 to Sept. 3, 2017 Table Footnote a Sept. 8 to Dec. 21, 2017 Table Footnote a, Table Footnotec
Bag and possession limits in Alberta
Limits Ducks Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese Canada Geese, Cackling Geese and White-fronted Geese Coots Snipe
Daily bag 8 Table Footnoted 50 8 Table Footnotee 8 8
Possession 24 Table Footnotef No limit 24 Table Footnoteg 24 24

Overabundant species

The Migratory Birds Regulations also provide for special conservation harvest periods when hunters may take overabundant species. Please note that additional hunting methods or equipment are permitted during the special conservation harvest periods. See the table below for details.

Measures in Alberta concerning overabundant species
Area Period during which Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese may be killed Additional hunting method or equipment
Throughout Alberta March 15 to June 15, 2018 Recorded bird calls Table Footnoteh


NOTE : The 2017 federal permit is also valid for the 2018 spring special conservation harvest for Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese.

100 Years of taking birds under our wings

1916 to 2016

The Canada-US Migratory Birds Convention

1917 to 2017

The Migratory Birds Convention Act

Centennial celebrations

For more information on centennial celebrations, visit Celebrating 100 years of bird conservation

Report your migratory bird bands

Call 1-800-327-BAND (2263) or go to the Report a bird with a Federal Band or Color Marker website

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