Wood Bison Hunt - Hay-Zama

2020-21 Hunting season

Important! A population survey conducted in February 2020 found a total minimum count of 368 bison in the Hay-Zama herd, which is below the population objectives and insufficient to continue the hunt for this season. As a result, the 2020-21 Hay-Zama wood bison hunting season has been suspended.

The Rules for This Year’s Hunt

  • The Hay-Zama wood bison hunt has been suspended for the 2020-21 season.
  • No licences will be issued for this season due to bison numbers being below population objectives. The hunt will be re-instated once population numbers have reached between 400 and 600 total minimum count.
  • Bison located in Bison Hunting Zone 1 are within the Bison Protection Area and are considered Endangered 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 herd in 2008, when the population was nearing 700 animals. This unique hunt is designed to contain the Hay-Zama herd to the Hay-Zama area and to maintain a herd 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 tuberculosis and bovine brucellosis – among the WBNP and Wentzel herds. Testing of the Hay-Zama herd 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 vehicle collisions with bison have occurred. Controlling the herd size helps minimize the risk of these encounters.


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

Updated: Jul 8, 2020