NWT looks to resume Mackenzie wood bison harvest

Harvesting of the NWT’s Mackenzie wood bison could resume for the first time in eight years under a proposal from the territorial government.

More than 450 wood bison are believed to have died in an anthrax outbreak in 2012, dipping the herd number to just over 700 – at which point harvesting the animals was prohibited.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources now believes the herd – a common sight on Highway 3 between Fort Providence and Behchokǫ̀ – has recovered sufficiently for harvesting to resume.


In a letter to regulators first reported by the CBC, the department estimates the herd has rebounded to more than 1,400 animals.

The department proposes allowing 40 male bison to be harvested in the coming year.

A tag will be required for each bison.

The proposal allocates 20 tags to Fort Providence’s Deh Gah Got’ie First Nation and Métis Council, then four tags each to the Tłı̨chǫ Government, Northwest Territory Métis Nation, North Slave Métis Alliance, and Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

Four remaining tags would be issued to residents through a draw.


The department’s letter states the proposed harvest has Tłı̨chǫ Government backing and will benefit NWT residents “while allowing the population to continue to recover and contribute to the recovery of wood bison nationally.”