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Bison Harvest

The 2021 bison harvest drawing is closed.

All successful recipients of a 2021 bison harvest opportunity have been notified.

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2021 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 Reserve.

Fort Belknap, Fort Peck, and Rocky Boy Community Drawing

Residents age 18 and older of Fort Peck, Fort Belknap, or Rocky Boy communities are welcome to enter a drawing for one of THREE opportunities to harvest a bison from American Prairie Reserve.

Montana State-Wide Drawing

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

Worldwide Drawing

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

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Bison Harvest

The 2021 bison harvest drawing is 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. The Reserve 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, the Reserve 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 Reserve. Like the bison harvests, carefully-managed hunting plays an important role in growing the Reserve 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.