Bison Producers

The 2016 census reported 119,314 bison on 975 Canadian farms and ranches. This reflects an annual compounded growth rate of almost 5.0% since the bison census was first taken in 1996 when 42,235 bison were reported on 745 farms. The 2016 bison census reported a 4.6% decline in bison numbers since 2011 when 125,142 bison were reported on Canadian farms and ranches. All provinces reported a decline in bison numbers except for Saskatchewan where bison numbers increased by 2.8%.


Bison Population

1996

2001

2006

2011

2016

2016
% Change from 2011

British Columbia

6,245

8,964

12,656

9,206

6,504

-29.4%

Alberta

22,782

79,821

97,366

57,483

54,907

-4.48%

Saskatchewan

7,006

34,781

57,395

39,334

40,418

+2.75%

Manitoba

4,621

13,473

19,609

14,116

14,025

-0.06%

Ontario

2,344

3,755

4,106

2,320

1,843

-20.56%

Quebec

2,236

4,192

4,322

2,380

1,538

-35-38%

Atlantic Canada

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

79

-

National

45,235

144,950

195,728

125,142

119,314

-4.66%

There were 975 bison farms and ranches that reported bison in 2016 compared to 1,211 bison farms and ranches reported in 2011 - a decline of 19.5%. All provinces reported a decline in bison producers.


Farms and Ranches Reporting Bison

1996

2001

2006

2011

2016

2016
% Change from 2011

British Columbia

57

98

121

71

55

-22.5%

Alberta

334

950

869

571

445

-22.06%

Saskatchewan

175

562

597

352

303

-13.9%

Manitoba

73

157

166

108

86

-20.4%

Ontario

46

58

71

60

49

-18.3%

Quebec

56

58

69

45

34

-24.4

Atlantic Canada

n/a

n/a

3

2

2

-

National

745

1,887

1,898

1,211

975

-19.5%

The average herd size increased by 18.5% to 122 head in 2016 compared to 103 in 2011. Herd size increased by about 20% in the three Prairie Provinces while all other provinces saw declines. A majority of the producers and bison are concentrated in the west with 91.2% of the producers and 97.1% of the bison being in the four western provinces.


Average Herd Size

1996

2001

2006

2011

2016

2016
% Change from 2011

British Columbia

110

91

105

130

118

-9.23%

Alberta

68

84

112

101

123

+21.78%

Saskatchewan

40

62

96

112

133

+18.75%

Manitoba

63

86

118

131

163

+24.43%

Ontario

51

65

58

39

38

-2.56%

Quebec

40

72

63

53

29

-40.68%

Atlantic Canada

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

-

National

61

77

103

103

122

+18.45%

Note: Census data is collected in mid-May during the bison calving period and it is unlikely that the 2016 calves are included in the census. With an adjustment for calves born and adjustments for exports and federal and provincial harvesting for the remained of the year it is estimated that the bison herd as of January 1, 2017 just over 145,000 in Canada.