What a great year to be a hunter in Saskatchewan! The recent series of relatively mild prairie winters has helped boost populations of most big-game animals, of which the province certainly boasts a decent list to choose from.
This species avoids the worst of winter by hibernating. Most populations are stable, and in a few wildlife management zones (WMZs), numbers are increasing. The hunter harvest has been below what is considered sustainable, so hunters can expect a very good fall. The bears are most commonly found in a broad band from the northwest to the southeast, where the boreal forest meets parkland and prairie.
For elk hunters, the coming season looks great. In the Parkland and Grassland WMZs, populations are near or above long-term targets. The hunting prospects in the Forest and Forest Fringe WMZs also look good for 2019 due to recent mild winters. There are several date changes to the hunting seasons this year, so hunters need to check the regulations for their favourite destinations.
The prospects for moose hunting are a bit more varied than they are for Saskatchewan’s other ungulates. In the southern Boreal WMZs, moose populations are declining, so the restricted seasons introduced in 2018 will continue for the coming season. For the rest of the province, though, moose populations are stable or increasing. Hunters should have excellent opportunities this fall, along with continued high success rates.
Mule deer numbers are up, thanks to a couple of favourable winters. For 2019, there will be increases in either-sex and antlerless hunting opportunities, as well as more archery opportunities for Saskatchewan residents with the addition of three more WMZs.
Hunting opportunities for pronghorns will be increased this fall to include all eight Pronghorn Management Units in the southwest of the province, thanks in part to several years of mild winter weather. There may also be new doe-hunting opportunities for resident hunters. The number of pronghorn licences will be determined following the annual mid-summer surveys, which were still in progress at press time.
The recent mild winters have resulted in white-tailed deer populations increasing and returning to normal levels across the province. Both Saskatchewan and Canadian resident hunters will have more opportunities this fall, with increases to the lengths of the hunting seasons.