Nearly 300 wild bison were harvested from the Wyoming herd in the season that ended on January 18th
SFGate.com reports a record 109 bulls and 190 cows and calves were harvested from the Jackson bison herd, eclipsing the old record by 32.
Hunter success rates were exceptional as well. The 94 percent overall success rate was anchored by an astounding 98 percent success rate for holders of bull tags. The 92 percent fill rate on cow tags included 16 mistakenly killed bull yearlings.
The average harvest since 2007 has been 220 bison, but the harvest has exceeded 200 only three times during that period. Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife managers are pleased with the harvest, as it will help meet herd management goals.
They are aiming for a herd size of around 500, but with last year’s population around 850, that may take a few years. They hope to reach that population goal by 2022. The harvest this year is expected to reduce the population by about 100 animals, after expected reproduction in the coming year is included.
Herd managers attributed the high success rate this year to, in part, the herd being more accessible. Most years the bison spend much of the hunting season in the park. This year, for unexplained reasons, the herd stayed in areas where hunters were allowed.
The bison hunting season in Jackson runs for five months, but was extended for one week this year. Wyoming wildlife officials will soon be setting harvest goals for next year. They are likely to recommend a similarly high harvest number, with slightly fewer bull tags.