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.

Support Our Work

The 2023 public bison harvest drawing will open Monday, May 15 and close Friday, June 30. 

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.

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.

Other Bison Restoration Projects & Programs

Bison Reintroduction Timeline

Nationwide Conservation