Wood Bison Hunt - Hay-Zama

2021-22 Hunting Season

Important! The Hay-Zama wood bison hunting season is suspended for the 2021-22 season. The annual population survey in February 2021 resulted in a minimum count of 433 bison. While these results are a positive improvement to the 368 bison counted the previous year, an additional year of data collection is required to confirm a positive population growth prior to re-instating a sustainably managed harvest.

The Rules for This Year’s Hunt

  • The Hay-Zama wood bison hunt has been suspended for the 2021-22 season.
  • No licences will be issued for this season due to bison numbers being close to the lower end of the population objective.
  • Bison in Bison Hunting Zone 1 are within the Northwest Bison Protection Area and are considered Threatened under Alberta’s Wildlife Act. No bison can be harvested without a licence.

Reasons for the Hunt

The Alberta Government first initiated a limited hunting season for the Hay-Zama bison population in 2008, when the population was nearing 700 animals. This unique hunt is designed to contain the Hay-Zama poplulation to the Hay-Zama area and to maintain a population size of 400 to 600 animals.

The lower goal of 400 bison is designed to ensure that there are enough healthy and genetically diverse adults for breeding. The upper goal of 600 ensures that bison are not forced out of the Hay-Zama range by overpopulation, which would potentially put them in contact with diseased bison to the east, in and around Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP).

There is a history of diseases – including bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis – among the WBNP and Wentzel populations. Testing of the Hay-Zama population has not found evidence of either of these diseases.

The hunt has the additional benefit of addressing public safety concerns in the area, particularly in the communities of Chateh and Zama where there have been vehicle collisions with bison. Controlling the population size helps minimize the risk of these encounters.

Questions?

To speak to a Fish and Wildlife officer about the hunt, contact these offices:


Updated: Nov 12, 2021