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As Demand Increases, MT Reserve Offers Larger Bison Harvest

There are more than 800 bison in the American Prairie Reserve's conservation herd. (Dennis J. Lingohr/American Prairie Reserve)
There are more than 800 bison in the American Prairie Reserve's conservation herd. (Dennis J. Lingohr/American Prairie Reserve)
June 3, 2020

HELENA, Mont. -- A growing number of Montanans have entered for a chance at harvesting a bison from the American Prairie Reserve.

This year, the reserve is able to offer 26 harvests, its biggest number yet. Last year, there were more than 2,500 entries for 16 harvest slots. Winners are picked through a drawing.

"We recognize the public benefit of this harvest, and we intentionally increased the number offered specifically to Montanans based upon the positive response that we saw," said Beth Saboe, senior manager of media and government relations for American Prairie Reserve, which stewards about 400,000 acres of grasslands in northeastern Montana.

Of the 26 animals harvested, she said four will be donated to local charities. Seven of the slots will be awarded to residents near the reserve, eight to Montanans across the state, five to members of the Fort Peck, Fort Belknap or Rocky Boy communities, and two to the public worldwide.

Saboe said there are between 800 and 850 bison in American Prairie Reserve's conservation herd, which is why the organization has been able to grow the program.

"It's healthy and growing," she said, "and so therefore, we've been able to increase the number of harvest opportunities available to the public."

Saboe said the harvests are used as a bison management tool to check the population and mimic natural predation. The group has been offering public harvests since 2018. Folks can enter this year's drawing through June 30. Winners will be selected on July 10.

More information on bison harvests is online at

Disclosure: American Prairie Reserve contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Public Lands/Wilderness and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT