FWP Commission to Hold Drawing for 10 Bison Hunting Licenses

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The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission decided today to enter more than 8,300 applicants in a drawing for 10 bison hunting licenses that could be used for a hunting season beginning in November.

Via conference call the commission voted 3-2 to conduct the drawing after further exploring the state’s drawing and licensing processes. The drawing will be conducted today and full refunds of all fees will be made to all unsuccessful applicants. Drawing results will be posted on the FWP website. The commission voted Monday to postpone the hunting season for bison in southwestern Montana that was to open Saturday.

"The commission met today to explore additional options related to the license-drawing process," said FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim. "The commissioners indicated that it is their intent to move forward with a bison hunt in the fall. The 10 successful applicants would be offered the opportunity to obtain a license for the anticipated 2005-06 season. "

A 2005-06 bison season was tentatively approved by the FWP Commission last month and will be discussed during public meetings later this year. Final decisions on specific locations, season dates, and quotas will be made in August.

During their conference call, commissioners confirmed their support for bison hunting and again directed FWP to continue to address bison-hunting options with the expectation that a three-month hunting season over a larger area of southwestern Montana would be held next fall and winter. Such a hunt would be expected to run Nov. 15 through Feb. 15, 2006. The hunt approved late last year was to run for 30 days and only in an area north of Gardiner.

The intent of the 2003 law authorizing a bison hunt is to allow Montana hunters to harvest wild, free-roaming bison under fair chase conditions and to reduce damage to private property by altering bison behavior and distribution. Officials said the hunt is not expected to regulate bison populations. Population regulation will continue to be achieved through the Interagency Bison Management Plan that was approved several years ago.

Public bison hunts are established in several western states, including Alaska, Arizona, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. In Montana, the last public bison hunt took place in 1990.