Wood bison

Slave River Lowlands Population

The Slave River Lowlands wood bison population comprises groups in the Hook Lake area east of the Slave River and the Grande Detour area west of the river. It is part of the population that survived the near-extinction of wood bison in the late 1800s. While bison disappeared from the Slave River Lowlands during the late 1800 to early 1900s, they recolonized the area in the 1940s where they thrived for a time in the lush sedge meadows.

Bison numbers are estimated from aerial population surveys carried out in late winter. Population size declined in the 1970s and remained low through to 2000 but by 2009 increased to levels not seen since the early 1970s. Resident and non-resident harvesting was closed in the 1970s in response to the decline, however the population continued to support Aboriginal harvests. In 2014, a limited resident harvest of one tag per hunter was reinstated.

Bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis are endemic in the Slave River Lowlands, along with the rest of the greater Wood Buffalo National Park bison meta-population.