The Government of Alberta will resume the Hay-Zama wood bison hunt in 2023/24. Hunters, Indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders will be pleased to hear of the reinstatement of the hunt after several years of the hunt being suspended.

The hunt ensures that a sustainable population of bison is maintained in the Hay-Zama area with the objectives of maintaining a disease-free herd, minimizing human-wildlife conflicts, and providing for recreational and subsistence hunting opportunities.

“Bison hunting in the Hay-Zama area is a shared harvesting opportunity between Indigenous Peoples and Alberta recreational hunters. I am proud of the partnership between the Canadian Wildlife Service, Dene Tha’ First Nation and the Government of Alberta that helps manage populations of wood bison in Alberta.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks

Resident hunting applications

  • Resident hunters are eligible to apply for a Resident Bison Special Licence in Bison Hunting Zone 1 from Sept. 12 to Sept. 26 using the draw process.
  • Applicants must apply individually; group applications are not valid for this draw. The bison hunting season will be from Dec 1, 2023, to Feb. 29, 2024.

First Nations and Métis applications

  • All First Nations and Métis who qualify under Alberta’s Métis harvesting policy are eligible to apply for an Aboriginal Resident Bison Licence, which will be issued by a draw/lottery.

Application forms will be available at the Alberta Environment and Protected Areas offices in High Level, Fort Vermilion, Peace River and Edmonton (Twin Atria building). Applications will only be accepted from Sept. 11 to 22, after which the application period will close.

The importance of managing herd size

  • Diseases including bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis have been detected in herds near Wood Buffalo Park and reducing the size of this herd will limit expansion of the healthy Hay Zama herd into areas where disease has been detected.
  • The Hay-Zama bison population continues to be disease-free following the testing of 350 samples.

More information about the Hay-Zama Bison Hunt, including draw information for aboriginal and non-aboriginal hunters can be found by visiting the Alberta RELM website.

Quick facts

  • A suspension of the Hay-Zama bison hunt has been in place since 2018.
  • The most recent survey in early 2023 showed that the Hay-Zama bison herd was more than 525 animals and may sustain harvesting opportunities in 2023-24.
  • All individuals hunting bison in the Bison Hunting Zone and the Hay-Zama area require a Resident Bison Special Licence.
  • The Government of Alberta communicates regularly with affected First Nations and Métis communities about Hay-Zama bison management.