New NWT hunters must take course before acquiring licence

Starting in the new year, a hunting education course will be mandatory before new hunters – and those convicted of hunting offences – are given a hunting licence.

The free course, which can be completed online or in person, will be compulsory for new hunters as well as people convicted of specific hunting offences such as hunting without a permit, wastage, or using dangerous harvesting methods.

Announcing the new rules on December 12, the NWT government stated the hunter education program was created to help prevent “wounding and wastage of game.”


Animal parts found thrown away on roadsides, at landfills, and in the bush continue to be an issue in the NWT. On the same day the hunter education changes were announced, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources stated a female porcupine caribou carcass had been found abandoned near the Yukon-NWT border.

This porcupine caribou carcass was discovered 1.4 kilometres west of the Dempster Highway. Photo: ENR

Regardless of a hunter’s experience, if earning a licence for the first time they will be required to take the course – which is mandated in the NWT’s Wildlife Act.

The department said it encouraged all hunters to take the course, which can be taken online or in person by contacting your nearest Environment and Natural Resources office.

Importantly, Indigenous people hunting in areas where they have harvesting rights are exempt from taking the course.


Others who are exempt include those hunting with a licensed outfitter or guide, NWT residents who have held hunting licences from the territory or other jurisdictions in the past five years, or those who hold a general hunting licence.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said hunter education was a need identified during engagement with Indigenous governments and organizations. The course, which becomes mandatory on January 1, includes information on survival skills, laws, the responsibilities of hunters, ecology, and wildlife management.

Environment minister Shane Thompson said hunters need to be guided by “the wisdom of past generations” to keep the tradition of hunting alive in the territory.

“Hunter education draws on practices long taught by Elders and community knowledge keepers to help train the next generation of responsible hunters,” Thompson said in a statement on December 12.