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Bison Harvest

The 2022 bison harvest lottery has closed. All applicants will be notified of results by July 8. 

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2022 Bison Harvest Opportunities

The American Prairie bison harvest drawing is free to enter, and registrants awarded the opportunity to harvest are required to pay a non-refundable fee of $300.

Given the uncertainty around COVID-19, these opportunities are subject to change based upon current CDC guidelines.

Local Area Resident Drawing

Montana residents age 18 and older of Blaine, Chouteau, Fergus, Garfield, Petroleum, Phillips, and Valley counties are welcome to enter a drawing for one of SEVEN opportunities to harvest a bison from American Prairie.

Montana Indigenous Communities Drawing

Members and residents age 18 and older of Tribal Nations in Montana are welcome to enter a drawing for one of FIVE opportunities to harvest a bison from American Prairie.

Montana State-Wide Drawing

Montana residents age 18 and older are welcome to enter a drawing for one of ELEVEN opportunities to harvest a bison from American Prairie.

Worldwide Drawing

Anyone age 18 and older is welcome to enter a drawing for one of TWO opportunities to harvest a bison from American Prairie.

Donated Harvests

Each year, American Prairie sets aside a small number of harvests to be donated to causes and organizations that are local to our region or aligned with our mission. These harvest opportunities help these groups raise money through raffles or auctions, or provide a unique experience for an individual, such as through our annual partnership with Wounded Warrior Outdoors. FIVE such harvests will be donated for the 2022-2023 season.

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Bison Harvest

The 2022 bison harvest lottery has closed. 

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About the Harvest

American Prairie reintroduced bison on our lands in 2005, returning a species that had been absent from the landscape for more than 120 years. Bison are critical to a fully functioning prairie ecosystem, and the restoration of a genetically pure, genetically viable, and disease-free bison herd is one of the major components of American Prairie’s efforts to restore and preserve this ecosystem.

Bison harvests have always been part of our long-term management plans, and with steady herd growth, we are now conducting annual public bison harvests to help manage for the health of the land and our herds.

Bison harvests help to maintain the health and sustainability of our bison population in a variety of ways. American Prairie is still missing two top grassland predators: wolves and grizzly bears. These species naturally prey on bison and in doing so help keep bison populations in balance with other native ungulates and within the capacity of the landscape’s available forage. Carefully controlled and limited harvesting by human beings can provide similar checks on bison numbers. To mimic natural predation, hunters will only be allowed to take a specific age class of bison, generally in the range of two-years old or under, which, along with the aged and less fit, are the animals most commonly taken when predators are present in sufficient numbers.

Conducting limited annual bison harvests will also help us fine-tune the bison population management strategies and practices needed in the near future as we continue to grow American Prairie’s land base. Even as it grows, American Prairie will be limited in the number of bison it can ecologically support. Harvesting by humans will be an important management tool to help augment the impact of natural death rates by predation, old age, and accidents and injuries generally sustained during the rut.

Because bison are classified as livestock in Montana and confined to large fenced areas on American Prairie’s deeded lands, we refer to these public opportunities as harvests rather than hunts. However, the conservation goals of the bison harvests are very similar to how we approach hunting on the prairie. Like the bison harvests, carefully-managed hunting plays an important role in growing American Prairie for the benefit of all wildlife. Learn more about American Prairie’s approach to hunting and conservation.

As part of American Prairie’s desire to make a positive contribution to bison restoration efforts across the country, we have also donated hundreds of bison to many conservation and tribal herds across the country. Learn more about our Bison Restoration Program.