Changes intended to protect and preserve Manitoba’s unique waterfowl hunting culture
The Manitoba Wildlife Federation fully supports the Manitoba government’s recently introduced Waterfowl Modernization Strategy, which includes sweeping new regulation changes primarily affecting foreign resident hunters. That’s the word from the MWF’s managing director, Carly Deacon, who participated in several stakeholder meetings about the regulation changes. Starting this fall, foreign resident hunters will now have to enter a draw to receive a waterfowl licence. As well, they will only be allowed to hunt for a maximum of seven consecutive days.
According to Deacon, the changes were introduced to protect and preserve Manitoba’s unique waterfowl hunting culture, and opportunities. Foreign hunters, mostly from the U.S. Midwest, have long been coming to Manitoba to hunt waterfowl, she says, but in recent years they’ve been staying for longer periods and harvesting a disproportionate percentage of the province’s birds. “Hunting activity by foreign hunters has intensified,” Deacon says. “They’re increasingly staying longer and controlling access to waterfowl hunting lands.”
According to harvest data from the Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S. hunter numbers have stayed relatively constant since the 1970s, comprising about a third of the total hunter numbers. The intensity and duration of their hunting pressure has significantly increased, however, with their share of Manitoba’s waterfowl harvest rising from 10 per cent in the 1970s to 50 per cent in the last 15 years. Meanwhile, resident numbers have remained relatively stable over the same period.
The regulatory changes have also been brought in to ensure Manitoba doesn’t go the way of the U.S. in terms of access. “Access to quality freelance waterfowl hunting opportunities on private and public land in the U.S. has diminished, resulting in hunters leasing and purchasing high-quality hunting land for personal use, or commercial outfitters doing the same to guarantee quality hunting for their clients,” reads an MWF press release about the changes.
Deacon stresses the goal of the changes is not to restrict the resource solely for Manitobans, but to restore a balance and ensure resident waterfowlers don’t lose access to quality hunting land. “This isn’t an us against them thing,” she says. “It’s about making it good for everybody so we don’t lose it.”
As part of the initial phase-in, all applicants applying for the draw in 2023 will receive a seven-day Foreign Resident Migratory Game Bird Licence. Going forward, the draw will be set based on information from hunter and stakeholder feedback.
Learn more about the MWF’s programs and positions at www.mwf.mb.ca.
And for more details on Manitoba’s waterfowl hunting regulation changes, click here.