Wood Bison Hunt - Hay-Zama

2022-23 Hunting Season

The Hay-Zama wood bison hunting season is suspended for the 2022-23 season.

The annual population survey in February 2022 resulted in a minimum count of 478 bison. While these results are a positive improvement to the 433 wood bison counted the previous year, there were observations of winter mortality and an additional year of data collection is required to confirm positive population growth before re-instating a sustainability managed harvest. No licences will be issued for this season to ensure bison numbers can maintain a sustainable harvest.

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. Read the Hay-Zama Wood Bison Hunting Season Fact Sheet to learn more.

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.

Learn more

To connect with Environment and Parks Wildlife Stewardship staff about the hunt, call

Updated: Sep 20, 2022