Annual bison hunt outside of Yellowstone deemed success
Federal, state and tribal representatives of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMNP) are calling this winter’s bison hunt outside of Yellowstone National Park a success. The group met this month to evaluate the hunt, which occurred during “the hardest winter in over a decade,” according to Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly.
Bison are allowed to be hunted as they move out of Yellowstone National Park – either with a designated tag or by a tribal sustenance hunter. This year, the total number of bison killed in tribal and state hunts was 1,186 animals with a total of 1,223 bison “lost due to hunting or other reasons,” which was met with mixed results from the audience in attendance of the public meeting, according to the Daily Montanan.
The majority died just north of the park’s boundaries.
At the beginning of the season, there were an estimated 6,000 bison in the Yellowstone population, which is a 27% increase since 2020; a result of warmer winters with less snow. Based upon this estimated population, the National Park Service recommended “capping the removal this winter at 1,500 bison through hunting, quarantines and transfers to tribes,” according to the Daily Montanan. The prior winter recommended a cap of 800 “to stabilize the population and cease current exponential growth.”
Members of the IBMP, which include representatives from Yellowstone National Park, the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the Montana Department of Livestock, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), CSKT, the Nez Perce Tribe, Custer Gallatin National Forest and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were pleased with the harvest numbers overall despite some opposition for holding the hunt in the first place.
Montana hunters took 75 bison, the Nez Perce Tribe harvested 417 bison and the Crow Tribe harvested 36 bison.
“It went well considering there was such a large migration,” said FWP’s Adam Pankratz.