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6,000 Hunters Hunger for Bison Burgers

October 04, 2005|From Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — More than 6,000 people, most of them Montana residents, have applied for 24 licenses to hunt the state's bison for the first time in 15 years, wildlife officials said Monday.

Last month, wildlife commissioners approved a three-month hunt of bison that leave Yellowstone National Park and enter southern Montana. Friday marked the deadline to apply for a license.

A drawing will be held next week, said Tom Palmer of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

"It's a real hunt. I think hunters recognize that and are interested in participating," Palmer said.

The hunt will be broken into two periods -- Nov. 15-Jan. 15 and Jan. 16-Feb. 15. As many as 25 bison could be killed in each period under the hunting rules.

Wildlife officials also approved 16 licenses for American Indian tribes in Montana and 10 more for people who were selected for a hunt that was canceled early this year.

The Legislature halted bison hunting in the early 1990s in the wake of protests, including a tourism boycott.

Yellowstone currently has its highest documented bison population -- an estimated 4,900 animals. Bison commonly leave the park to forage, particularly in the winter.

But their wandering concerns Montana ranchers because some bison have brucellosis. The disease can cause cows to abort, and livestock officials contend the bison could give it to cattle.

Bison advocates counter that there has never been a documented case of transmission between bison and cattle in the wild.

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