With several years of favourable winter conditions, white-tailed deer populations are beginning to return to base levels across much of the province. Populations in some regions, such as the southwest, have increased to a level that warrants antlerless seasons in order to moderate population growth.
In response, the ministry has extended the 2019 season for Saskatchewan resident regular seasons and the Canadian resident draw season in all southern WMZs. Regular antlerless seasons will remain in place in city WMZs (Saskatoon, Regina/Moose Jaw and Prince Albert) with additional antlerless opportunities offered in WMZs 2E, 2W, 5, 6, 7E, 7W, 14W, 33, 34 and 55.
The most recent aerial surveys showed a decline in southern forest moose populations; several zones are 30 to 50 per cent below the long-term average. Hunting pressure may be contributing to the downward trend. Regular season dates were restricted and draw quotas were reduced in 2018 and will remain the same in 2019.
In the northern forest, WMZs 74-76, an either-sex regular season will be open in 2019.
Farmland moose populations remain near long-term objectives. Quotas will remain similar to 2018, with select WMZs seeing slight changes. Season dates in southern farmland zones will remain the same as 2018.
The recently developed Saskatchewan Elk Management Plan has influenced a number of changes.
Regular and draw archery elk seasons have shifted to increase opportunities for hunters while accommodating antlerless elk season dates. Changes have also been made to late antlerless elk season in many WMZs to improve hunter's success rates and assist in elk population management. Regular (all-weapon) elk and most either-sex draw elk season dates will remain unchanged from previous years. Increased draw quotas have been set in select Parkland wildlife management zones and WMZ 33 (including Moose Mountain Provincial Park) to manage elk populations in these regions.
Provincial mule deer populations have benefited from multiple mild winters and appear to be at sustainable levels across much of the southern half of the province. New mule deer hunting opportunities are being introduced in WMZ 32 and the Prince Albert WMZ, bringing the total to 62 zones. Quotas for either-sex and antlerless animals have been increased in many WMZs.
Antlerless licences are offered with a bag limit or one or two deer, depending on the zone. Regular archery mule deer licences will be offered in the same zones as 2018, with the addition of WMZs 8, 53 and the Regina/Moose Jaw WMZ.
The draw for pronghorn will be conducted in July and final quotas will be determined after ground surveys are completed. Quotas will be adjusted or eliminated based on current year population estimates.
Pronghorn populations continue to expand throughout much of their range. Wildlife managers are considering either-sex quotas in all eight management units comprised of WMZs 1-15, 18, 19, and 23-27. In addition, doe pronghorn opportunities are being considered for combined WMZs 2, 4, 5; 3, 6, 7; 8-11; and 14W, 25-27.
Waterfowl populations remain at or above target levels across much of the province, although they may be impacted by spring and summer conditions. Season dates and bag limits remain unchanged.
Saskatchewan's Upland Game Bird Management Plan was recently published and quotas align with the plan thresholds. Upland bird populations vary across the province. Sharp-tailed grouse and gray partridge populations continue to increase, so bag limits have been increased in some areas. Ring-necked pheasant populations declined, but remain relatively strong. Forest grouse populations recently went through a low point in their natural cycle, but seasons and bag limits remain unchanged in most cases.