Bison hunt harvest very low due to lack of snow

JACKSON HOLE, WYO –A lack of snow is being blamed for low harvest numbers of bison during the most recent hunting season that ended in January.

Wise collects a tooth sample from a successful hunter’s bull bison. Teeth are collected to age the animal and keep tabs on the age structure of the herd. A blood sample is also collected to test the animal for brucellosis. Long term data, from more than 1200 samples, has shown that approximately 61 per-cent of the bison in the Jackson Herd have been exposed to brucellosis. (WGFD)

According to Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials, the mild start to the winter, especially at the lower elevations, allowed bison to find plenty of forage available in the safe confines of Grand Teton National Park where bison hunting is not allowed. It wasn’t until the very end of the season when some groups of bison ventured onto the National Elk Refuge that hunters were able to get a crack at them.

The final harvest was low, at just 70 animals taken. Fortunately, a few recent good years of harvest (272 last year) had brought bison herd numbers down toward the population objective of 500 for the herd.

Jackson office manager Niki Johnson collects a successful hunter’s harvest report while Barb Long assists another hunter with a license. (WGFD)

Bison hunting keeps Game and Fish busy. The Jackson hunt is the longest hunting season, running from August 15-January 31, although most bison are harvested during the last few weeks of the season when winter sets in and bison tend to move from Grand Teton NP to the Elk Refuge.

Office managers deal with many questions about details of this unique hunt, not to mention the constant calls from hunters wondering if bison are even available in the hunt area as many nonresident hunters try to make plans to travel to Jackson Hole, but only if the bison are around.

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