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Bison season in Montana opens amid uncertainties

November 15, 2012
Brett French | Billings Gazette

Editor's note: While some might not like the notion of hunting some of the last 4,500 wild Yellowstone bison, in the long-term it could prove beneficial to the species' future. One major difference between reverence toward elk and Yellowstone bison is the hunting constituency. Making a limited number of Yellowstone bison available to hunters could create a support community around the animal that simply doesn't exist today.

Bison hunters may be stalking more answers than wild animals when Montana’s eighth season opens in the southwestern corner of the state on Thursday.

That’s because there are uncertainties clouding the politically charged issue of managing the Yellowstone National Park bison when they cross into the state this winter seeking forage.

The most pressing question for hunters is: Will the winter weather be harsh enough to force portions of the herd -- numbering about 4,230 -- to migrate out of the park into Montana where they can be hunted? On the legal front, a Livingston judge’s decision, expected at the end of December, will determine whether bison will be allowed to roam in the Gardiner Basin rather than being confined only to certain forest lands. And in the political arena the question is: Will Montana’s newly elected governor, Steve Bullock, enact an embargo on the National Park Service’s shipment of bison to slaughter, as Gov. Brian Schweitzer did last year?

To read the entire story, click here.

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