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Bison Harvest

American Prairie Reserve will offer six bison harvest opportunities: four to eligible Montana residents and two to the public. 

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Bison Harvest Drawing for Montana Residents

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 FOUR opportunities to harvest a bison from American Prairie Reserve.

The drawing is free to enter, and registrants awarded the opportunity to harvest are required to pay a non-refundable fee of $500 for members or $650 for non-members. (Registrants must be a registered Member at the time of selection. Click here to become a member of American Prairie Reserve.) Eligible individuals must fill out and submit the form by 12:00 MIDNIGHT September 11, 2018.

Four recipients will be randomly selected Wednesday, September 12, 2018. 

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Public Harvest Auction

Eligible members of the public are invited to place bids to purchase the opportunity to harvest a bison from American Prairie Reserve land. The auction will be open from September 12–20, 2018, and two harvest opportunities will be available. The first harvest window is scheduled for January 31–February 6, 2019 and the second is scheduled for February 7–13, 2019.

Please visit the auction website for more details and to place a bid.

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About the Harvest

In 2018, American Prairie Reserve (APR) will begin hosting an annual bison harvest on our private lands. Since the inception of this project, an annual bison harvest has been a part of our long-term plans. After eleven years of steady growth in our bison population, our herd numbers approximately 900 genetically diverse animals and we are now ready to begin conducting harvests.

Bison harvests will help maintain the health and sustainability of our bison population in a variety of ways. First, 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. Until such time that robust populations of wolves and grizzlies are once again roaming the grasslands, 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 Reserve’s land base. Even at three and a half million acres, American Prairie 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.

Lastly, cultural archeologists estimate that human beings sustainably harvested animals on these Northern Great Plains for approximately 14,000 to 16,000 years. About 160 years ago there was an influx of new immigrants of European descent. Shortly thereafter, the populations of elk, deer, pronghorn, big horn sheep, wolves, cougars, bears and bison plummeted in the space of sixty years. By 1910, most of these species were completely eradicated from the American Prairie Reserve region. Today, with the notable exceptions of wolves, swift fox and grizzlies, the original species have been reintroduced or have recolonized this area of the prairies. While they still exist at a small fraction of their pre-European settlement numbers, we believe that with careful management, including responsible and limited harvesting by humans, the populations of all of these species can flourish spectacularly on the grasslands once again.