In order to reduce the waterfowl harvest by foreign residents and encourage more Canadians to obtain hunting licenses, the Manitoba government recently implemented restrictions on non-Canadian hunters. Even with Covid-era travel restrictions and persistent concerns about bird flu, the government cited conflicts and competition between resident and nonresident hunters as the rationale for the new restrictions.
The new regulations, drafted in the spring of 2022 and titled “Waterfowl Hunting Modernization in Manitoba,” took effect April 1, 2023, and are designed to reduce the number of foreign hunters by 20 percent, boost the use of licensed waterfowl outfitters by 55 percent (there are an estimated 60 outfitters operating in Manitoba) and “redistribute competition for access to dwindling hunting areas.” To accomplish this, the number of licenses available to foreign residents will be limited to 2,900, and hunters must pay increased fees and enter a lottery system for licenses that don’t require a licensed guide.
According to the Manitoba government, the number of Canadian resident gamebird licenses has fallen during the past 45 years. In 1978 nearly 55,000 Canadian residents purchased gamebird licenses. By 2002 the number of licenses had fallen to—and remains plateaued at—approximately 10,000. Meanwhile, licenses for foreign residents have fluctuated only slightly, averaging approximately 3,500 per year since 1978. That said, the government reported that “foreign hunters now account for over 50 percent of [the] annual provincial duck harvest, while only purchasing one third of annual game bird licenses.”
Led by Ducks Unlimited, Americans have made their frustrations known. In response to the new restrictions, DU CEO Adam Putnam wrote a letter dated October 7, 2022, to Greg Nesbit, Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development for the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. In the letter he asked the government to reconsider the restrictions, as they would “create a huge disincentive for US waterfowlers to travel to Manitoba every year to enjoy the natural resources, support rural economies, and contribute to conservation in Manitoba.” At press time, the new restrictions remain in place.
For foreign hunters planning to hunt in Canada this fall, there are/were three options:
• Enter the Foreign Resident Migratory Game Bird License Draw to become eligible for a seven-day license. Online-draw applications were accepted from June 15 to July 15 on Manitoba’s electronic licensing platform: manitobaelicensing.ca. (As part of the initial phase-in strategy, the government has ensured that all applicants will draw a license this year.)
• Purchase one of 1,200 seven-day Foreign Resident Migratory Game Bird Licenses through a licensed Manitoba outfitter.
• Qualify as a land interest holder and receive a grandfathered Foreign Resident Legacy Migratory Game Bird License. There are 400 licenses reserved for this designation.
For more information on “Waterfowl Hunting Modernization in Manitoba,” visit reg.gov.mb.ca/detail/7450729.