A record number of people entered a drawing to harvest a bison from a private herd in northeastern Montana this year.
More than 2,400 people vied for 16 spots in the American Prairie Reserve’s annual lottery to hunt a bison on the non-profit’s land.
A spokeswoman from the Reserve says that’s more than 20 times the number of entrants they got last year, a difference she attributes to their decision to advertise the drawing this year.
Fifteen of this year’s winners are from Montana and come from Billings, Butte, Cascade, Columbia Falls, Harlem, Hayes, Lewistown, Malta, Moore, Poplar, Sidney and Wolf Point. The one out-of-state participant hails from Nebraska.
Each participant will have the opportunity to cull one bison out of the Reserve’s 833-member heard.
This is the third year in a row the Reserve has offered the public a chance to cull a bison, which has to be under two-years-old.
While entering the drawing is free, harvesting costs $300.
The harvest is one of the ways that the Reserve manages its bison population, along with contraception and donating bison to tribal conservation programs.
Damien Austin, Reserve Superintendent, said, “The harvest is designed to mimic natural predation and serve as a check on the bison population.”
The Reserve’s Bison Management Plan states that although the Reserve’s bison are private property, it seeks to manage its population as wildlife, meaning as a public resource for the common good.
The bison are currently classified as livestock, not wildlife, by state regulations.
Drawing winners will harvest bison throughout the fall and winter.
Olivia Reingold is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America corps member.