Alberta bans spears in big game hunting

Updated hunting regulations ‘ensure big game animals are not subjected to unnecessary suffering’

Alberta’s NDP government is banning the use of spears for hunting big game animals.

New hunting regulations prohibit the use of spears and spear-throwing tools like atlatls — a type of stick hunters use to throw a dart or short spear at prey. The new rules also introduce new standards for ammunition.

“These changes will discourage reckless actions and ensure big game animals are not subjected to unnecessary suffering,” reads a statement from the province. 

Starting with the 2018 hunting season, only rifles, shotguns and conventional archery gear will be legal for hunting big game animals including deer, elk, moose, and bear. 

Big game hunters will also be required to use a minimum .24-calibre buckshot “to ensure a quick and effective kill.” 

Those caught breaking the rules under Alberta’s Wildlife Act could face up to $50,000 in fines or be sentenced to a year in jail.

“Modernizing our hunting regulations will ensure safety and prevent the game from experiencing undue suffering,” said Environment Minister Shannon Phillips in a statement.

Alberta Environment and Parks said more than 3,900 responses from the public helped shape the new regulations. The new rules won’t interfere with the rights of Indigenous hunters to practice traditional hunting methods, the province said.  

About 118,000 people hunt big game in the province each year. More than 90 percent of them are Alberta residents.

The vast majority use firearms, with about 18 percent getting a bow-hunting licence.