Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Using a Firearm for Wilderness Protection

In general, the only firearms allowed for wilderness protection are non-restricted rifles and shotguns. The following individuals, provided they are Canadian residents and have a licence that allows them to possess restricted firearms, may be authorized to carry a handgun or restricted long gun for wilderness protection:

  • licensed professional trappers, and
  • individuals who need protection from wild animals while working at their lawful occupation, most often in a remote wilderness location.

Licence and Registration Requirements

Under the Firearms Act, all firearm owners and users require a firearms licence, and all restricted or prohibited firearms must be registered*. When in possession of a firearm, an individual must be able to produce a firearms licence for inspection when asked by a peace officer. If it is a restricted or prohibited firearm, they must also have the associated registration certificate.

Carrying Handguns and Restricted Long Guns

To be authorized to carry a handgun or restricted long gun for a lawful occupational purpose, such as trapping or working in a wilderness area, an individual must be a Canadian resident, have a firearms licence with restricted privileges and obtain an Authorization to Carry (ATC) permit from the CFP. To apply for an ATC permit, form RCMP 5491, Application for Authorization to Carry Restricted Firearms and Prohibited Handguns, must be submitted. There is a non-refundable fee of $40 to apply for an ATC.

Safe Transportation

If a non-restricted firearm is left in an unattended vehicle, it must be unloaded and either locked in the trunk or a similar lockable compartment, or put out of sight inside the locked vehicle.

Restricted firearms must also be rendered inoperable by means of a locking device and kept in a locked container.


In a remote wilderness area, a non-restricted firearm may be left in an unlocked vehicle providing:

  • the vehicle cannot be locked;
  • the firearm has been made inoperable by means of a secure locking device (unless the firearm is needed for predator control); and,
  • it is placed out of sight.

Safe Storage

Non-restricted firearms must be made inoperable during storage or locked in a sturdy cabinet, container or room that cannot be broken into easily. They must be stored unloaded, with ammunition kept separate unless it is kept in the same locked compartment as the firearm.

Additional requirements apply to the safe storage and transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms, including keeping these firearms in locked containers.

In a remote wilderness area, however, non-restricted firearms do not have to be made inoperable or locked up. They must be unloaded, but the ammunition can be kept handy.

Note: This information applies only to the rules under the federal Firearms Act. Other laws and regulations may apply. For example:

  • The National Parks Wildlife Regulations typically restrict the use of firearms in national parks, even though they may be "remote wilderness areas".
  • Provincial regulations or municipal bylaws that restrict the use of firearms in a particular area may apply.
  • Provinces may have restrictions on firearms usage outside hunting season to prevent poaching.
  • Provisions in the Aeronautics Act apply to pilots who fly aircraft in wilderness areas.

Note: The Firearms Act does not apply to devices that were designed exclusively to shoot flares and intended to be used exclusively for that purpose. However, some imported flare guns were based on the same receiver as a real firearm and are legally considered to be firearms. Please see CFP Bulletins for more information.


For more information, contact the CFP.

This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations. Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.