This snowy winter turned into a record year for bison hunters, says Environment Yukon

A record number of bison were harvested this year in Yukon.

Wildlife officials in the territory say easier access to bison-hunting areas may have contributed to hunters’ success.

The total harvest this season was 272 animals, which is the most bison ever harvested since the species was reintroduced in Yukon in the late 1990s.

“We have been in a bit of an upward trend over the last few years,” said Tom Jung, senior wildlife biologist with Environment Yukon.

“Last year there were 237 bison taken, so we are up 35 this year.”

There were 2,076 permits issued for bison this year. The season closed on March 31.

Jung says this past winter’s record snowfall made it easier for some hunters.

“What we heard from people who have been out on the land during the bison hunt, local First Nations and conservation officers, is because of the deep snow we had this year, hunters [were] able to get out and cover quite a bit of ground and see where the bison are,” said Jung.

Yukon’s bison harvest has seen an upward trend over the last few years, says government biologist Tom Jung. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

He says some years the snow melts much sooner, limiting where hunters can get to on snowmachines.

Jung says some hunters also may have spent more time on the land because of the pandemic.

“Instead of a one- or two- or three-day trip, we heard of a number of extended trips,” he said.

“COVID probably had a role in that, and people were spending some of their vacation time out on the land bison hunting rather than traveling elsewhere.”    

He says the most updated figure of Yukon’s bison population is around 1,400 to 1,500 animals. He says there will be another count done in July.

Jung says 272 bison is close to the maximum allowable annual harvest which is set at 300 animals.