Bison Harvest

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

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The 2023-24 drawing is now closed.

The bison harvest drawing closed on June 30, 2023.

The harvest drawing will be awarding 17 harvest opportunities.

• Local Area Resident Drawing: Montana residents of Blaine, Chouteau, Fergus, Garfield, Petroleum, Phillips, or Valley counties. FIVE names will be drawn.
• Indigenous Communities Drawing: Members/residents of Montana’s Tribal Nations may enter. THREE names will be drawn.
• Montana State-Wide Drawing: Any Montana resident may apply. EIGHT names will be drawn.
• Worldwide Drawing: ONE name will be drawn.

Bison harvests are an important management tool used to maintain the health and sustainability of our bison populations in a variety of ways. American Prairie is still missing two top grassland predators: wolves and grizzly bears. These species historically preyed on bison and in doing so played a role in regulating their populations. Humans have also played a role in regulating bison populations, through harvest for thousands of years. Today, carefully controlled and limited harvesting by humans can continue to fill the same rolls played by humans, wolves and grizzly bears for thousands of years.

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

Because bison are classified as livestock in Montana and confined to large fenced areas on American Prairie lands, we refer to the public opportunities as harvests rather than hunts. However, the conservation goals of the bison harvests are approached similar to how public trust species like elk, deer and pronghorn are managed. Like bison harvests, carefully managed hunting plays an important role in growing American Prairie for the benefit of all wildlife.

As part of American Prairie’s desire to make a positive contribution to bison restoration efforts across North America, in addition the providing public harvest opportunities hundreds of bison have been distributed to tribal and conservation herds across the United States.

Other Bison Restoration Projects & Programs

Bison Reintroduction Timeline

Nationwide Conservation