A massive private conservation reserve in northeastern Montana is expanding its hunting opportunities this fall.
For the second year in a row, hunters will be able to harvest bison on the American Prairie Reserve. The organization is offering 10 total tags, up from eight last year.
Beth Saboe is the public information manager for the reserve.
"On the prairie right now there’s an absence of big predators who would naturally go after the bison herd, so we use hunting as a management tool to keep our population size down," Saboe said.
There will be a drawing for four tags for interested residents of neighboring Blaine, Chouteau, Fergus, Garfield, Petroleum, Phillips, and Valley counties. Those tags will run $650, or $500 for members of the reserve. An additional four tags will be donated to nonprofits in Malta and Glasgow, and the final two will be up for public auction online from Sept. 12 through Sept. 20.
In addition, they’ve enrolled a new swathe of land next to the Charles M Russell National Wildlife Refuge in a system that allows public hunting on private land under the management of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
This addition brings the total amount of American Prairie Reserve open to hunting up to nearly 28,000 acres, and Saboe said this expansion of hunting is part of the organization’s commitment to give back to neighboring communities.
"Our promise to all hunters is that American Prairie Reserve will strive to provide a rich and satisfying hunting experience," Saboe said.
Saboe said the details of the nonprofits’ bison hunt are not yet finalized, but the auctioned and private individual hunts will begin in January and February.