Winter hunting season for Aishihik bison extended

Yukon bison hunters will have nine game management subzones available for hunting from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14.

Yukon bison hunters will have nine game management subzones available for hunting from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14.

The zones, GMS 5-36, 5-38, 5-39, 5-41, 5-44, 5-46, 5-47, 5-49 and 5-50, are all along the Alaska and North Klondike highways.

Environment Yukon says the extension of the hunting season in this area is meant to reduce the size of the Aishihik wood bison population. It’s also meant to discourage the bison from expanding their range and keep the animals off the highways during the winter.

The latest numbers, from July 2014, estimate the size of the Aishihik herd at 1,470, including calves. The bison management plan aims to keep the population to at or near 1,000 animals post-harvest.

The mid-winter hunting closure will remain in effect for about two-thirds of the core bison range. The closure was first implemented in 2010-11 to give local residents, fur trappers and wildlife a break from the disturbance caused by bison hunters.

The core range is bordered by the two highways and Kluane National Park.

According to Environment Yukon, since 1998, 1,557 bison have been harvested, providing an estimated 817,874 pounds of meat.

The bag limit remains one bison per hunter per year. Kill reports must be made to an Environment Yukon office within 72 hours of harvest.

Maps showing the new boundary of the closed area are available on the Environment Yukon website and at all department offices.

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