Draws for Special Licenses

COVID-19 response: temporary closures

The Government of Alberta has temporarily closed front counters at all Fish and Wildlife offices across the province.

  • You can contact Fish and Wildlife offices using the phone numbers listed on the Fish and Wildlife - Contacts page.
  • For recreational sportfishing or hunting information, please visit AlbertaRELM or call the AlbertaRELM Help Desk at 1-888-944-5494.
  • Vehicle access is now permitted at parking lots and staging areas in provincial parks and public land. Facilities like playgrounds and washrooms remain temporarily closed. For more information, visit the Alberta Parks advisories page.

For more information about Alberta’s COVID-19 response, visit COVID-19 info for Albertans.

When demand for hunting opportunities becomes too high, season length and bag limits are often not enough to conserve animal populations or provide a quality hunting experience. Draws for a limited number of special licences allow successful applicants to hunt a specific type of game in defined areas during a specified season. Only Residents and, in some cases, Non-residents (Canadians) can apply for these draws.

Draws are also used for specific wildlife management purposes, such as in antlered mule deer draw, to develop a more balanced age structure in the herd by controlling the kill of bucks. Other benefits include the following:

  • A better distribution of the harvest
  • A more pleasant hunting experience with lower hunter densities
  • Improved hunter success
  • Increased opportunity to harvest a trophy animal
  • Reduced disturbance of landowners

The Draw Priority System

The draw system rewards hunters who persistently apply for the same special licence year after year.

Your priority level for a particular special licence is based on the number of years you have unsuccessfully applied for that licence since the last time you obtained it or since 1990, whichever is most recent. For example:

  • If you applied unsuccessfully for an Antlered Mule Deer Special Licence in 1999 and 2000, your priority for that particular licence in the 2001 draw would be 2.
  • If you are unsuccessful for that same licence in 2001, you would enter the 2002 draw for that particular licence with a priority of 3.

Within each Wildlfe Management Unit (WMU), area, or season, licences are first assigned to those applicants with highest priority.

  • If there are licences left after those applications are filled, then licences are assigned to those applicants with next priority for that particular licence and so on.
  • If there are more applicants than licences at any priority level, the licences are assigned to those applicants at random.
    • Note:

      Your priority level for a specific licence is not attached to any WMU, area or season (unless the licence is defined that way, such as WMU 437 Trophy Sheep).

      For example, if you have applied for an Antlered Moose Special Licence and have a priority level 3 for that licence, that priority level will be used in any valid WMU (or season) in which you apply.

  • Once you are drawn for a special licence, your priority for that particular licence drops to zero for all WMUs, areas or seasons.
  • Applicants who are not successful will have their priority increased by one level for that particular licence. If you do not apply one year, your priority level does not change.
  • If you apply with a hunting partner(s), the priority for the group application is that of the individual member whose priority is lowest.

Undersubscribed Special Licences

Each year, too few people apply for special licences in some WMUs. The remaining undersubscribed licences are sold to eligible hunters starting in September.

Learn which licences are available:

Quota Licences

Quota licences help to reduce populations of certain game species beyond what can be accomplished through regular hunting seasons. These licences provide hunters with additional hunting opportunities and are included in the sale of unassigned special licences starting in September.

Updated: May 18, 2011