Hunting > Big Game

2009 Elk Forecast: Canada

From Alberta to Manitoba, Canada has something for every elk hunter.

 From the amazing herd growth following elk restoration efforts in Kentucky, wolf impacts on elk and hunting in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, massive elk populations in Colorado and the trophy bull reputations of Arizona and Utah; the headlines for the upcoming elk season are endless. Here’s how Canada’s population stacks up.

Southwestern Alberta has a reputation for big bulls where elk are managed to ensure that plenty of bulls live long enough to reach their full potential. A little farther north, some impressive bulls are killed each year in the Peace River area. Warmer and drier than normal conditions over most of the province brought elk through the winter in great shape. Expect good hunting prospects this season for trophy bulls and cows.

British Columbia
Coastal British Columbia saw significant snowpack but nothing terribly out of the ordinary for wintering elk. Over the central and southern portions of the province, snowfall was normal to slightly below normal. With a burgeoning elk herd and productive habitat, the long-term outlook for wapiti in B.C. is positive. Elk are especially abundant in the Kootenay region, an attractive area for trophy hunters where bull harvest is limited to animals carrying at least six tines on at least one antler. Many trophy areas in British Columbia offer rifle hunting during the rut, an option that has become increasingly rare in North America, with a few notable exceptions. 

Nearly anywhere hunters venture afield, conditions are ripe for a fine elk season. “Our populations are stable with good numbers of elk in the Interlake, Duck Mountain, Porcupine Mountain and Spruce Woods regions,” reports Ken Rezibant, provincial big game manager. In the Riding Mountain area, wildlife managers have successfully cut the herd in half, Rezibant says, from a high of 5,000 animals some eight years ago to 2,500, in a bid to lower the potential transmission of bovine tuberculosis.

Saskatchewan’s elk fared well this winter. Snowpack across the province was variable but didn’t adversely affect elk populations.During the winter of 2008, two elk in the Nipawin area were found dead. Both tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the first confirmed cases of the disease in free-ranging elk in the province. However, wildlife officials have been monitoring CWD for nearly 10 years after a mule deer in the Manitou Hills tested positive. Although the disease has the potential to adversely affect elk numbers, massive die-offs aren’t likely. CWD has plagued elk in several states, including parts of Colorado, without the disastrous effects some biologists predicted when it was discovered. Elk populations remain healthy and growing across the province, with a fine hunting season predicted for this fall.

Check out our interactive elk map for state-by-state populations, tag costs, bull-to-cow ratios and more.

Courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

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