Lottery system created for special guiding licenses

The Yukon government will use a lottery process to distribute special guiding licences this year, in response to their growing popularity.

The Yukon government will use a lottery process to distribute special guiding licences this year, in response to their growing popularity.

Twenty-five licences for bison will also be available for the first time this season, on top of the 100 existing licences for caribou, moose, black bear, wolf and coyote.

Special guiding licences allow Yukon residents to guide family members and friends from outside the territory. They’ve been around for several decades, but in the last five years, demand has spiked.

Rob Florkiewicz, harvest program coordinator with Environment Yukon, said the 100 licences sold out in three days in 2013, two days in 2014, and two and half hours last year. He said people have taken to lining up on April 1, when the licences become available, to make sure they get one.

“People were starting to anticipate that they’d be completely filled, so they’d come sooner.”

Florkiewicz said the situation was becoming unfair, because only people who could come to Whitehorse and take time off work were able to get a licence.

The new lottery system should level the playing field. People can submit applications to Environment Yukon, along with a $10 fee, between April 1 and 22. The draw will take place on April 29.

The lottery is also weighted, which will give unsuccessful applicants an advantage if they reapply in subsequent years.

“For each year you apply, the probability that you’ll be drawn goes up,” Florkiewicz explained.

According to the old rules, resident hunters were only able to apply for a special guiding licence every three years. Now, residents will be allowed to apply every year, but non-residents can only be guided every three years, as before.

This year will also see the introduction of 25 bison licences, on top of the regular 100 licences for moose and caribou. Hunters will have to choose between the two types. Both licences include opportunities to hunt for black bear, wolf and coyote.

Florkiewicz explained that non-resident hunters will also have to choose between moose and caribou this year, instead of being allowed to harvest both.

“There’s a more general concern of the level of harvest of wildlife in the territory,” he said. “There isn’t a strong rationale for them to be able to take caribou and moose. That’s a lot of meat.”

Florkiewicz said he’s not sure why the special guiding licences have become so much more popular in recent years, aside from the fact that the Yukon is becoming well-known for its wilderness and hunting opportunities.

But he did acknowledge that some people use the licences to bring up non-resident hunters who are not personal acquaintances.

The licences are meant to be used for friends or family members from Outside. Hunters aren’t supposed to use them to make a profit. But that’s a difficult rule to enforce, Florkiewicz said.

“The burden of proof becomes impossible,” he explained. In practice, the government just requires that the visitor be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.

Gord Zealand, executive director of the Yukon Fish & Game Association, said he welcomes the changes.

“The system that we had in place previously, it just accommodated those that were able to get away and put in the time very early in the day,” he said, referring to the long lineups on April 1.

Though special guiding licences can be a source of competition for Yukon outfitters if they’re used improperly, Zealand said he hasn’t heard much pushback from outfitters about the 25 additional licences this year.

“I don’t think the outfitters are in favour of these special licences, but at the same time, they’ve been in place for a long time,” he said. “At the end of the day, are things open to abuse? Sure. All we can hope is that people respect the outdoors and do the right thing.”

Successful licence applicants will be contacted after the draw on April 29, and their licence numbers will be posted on Environment Yukon’s website.

Contact Maura Forrest at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

Joel Krahn/ Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

Most Read