Mackenzie Bison Population
The Mackenzie bison population is the largest healthy, free-roaming bison population in the NWT. Established in 1963, the herd grew rapidly. In 1989 it reached an estimated 2,431 bison. Since then, population growth declined and by the year 2000 it had stabilized at about 2,000 bison. Several mortality factors have contributed to this stabilization in numbers, specifically an anthrax outbreak in 1993 killed 172 bison and in 1989, 177 bison fell through thin spring ice and were drowned. Since 2000, numbers slowly declined to about 1,440 bison by early 2012. In the summer of 2012, about one-third of the Mackenzie bison population was lost to an outbreak of anthrax. The population now numbers about 700 animals.
All harvesting in the Mackenzie wood bison range is closed effective November 1, 2012. No harvesting of Mackenzie wood bison in the range is allowed. For more information contact your local ENR Office.
The population occupies a wilderness area of approximately 20,000 km2 ranging from the Mackenzie River near Fort Providence north to areas near Yellowknife. Their range has expanded west of the highway to include both the Mills and Mink lake areas.
Updated: 21 October 2013