This hunt, you'll recall, was scheduled to begin last January, but was cancelled after Governor Brian Schweitzer expressed his concern that the planned hunt might damage Montana's reputation, since it would focus on buffalo leaving Yellow- stone National Park. The hunt area includes portions of Gallatin and Park Counties, specifically areas around Gardiner and the community of West Yellowstone. Hunting would be allowed on private lands with landowner permission, plus public lands specifically defined as buffalo hunt areas.
The newly proposed 90-day hunt would have two phases, each with 25 either-sex permits. The first hunt would begin November 15 and continue through January 15, 2006; the second hunt would begin January 16 and continue through February 15. One permit for each time period would go to each of Montana's eight Indian Tribes. Last year 8,300 people applied for 10 licenses to hunt buffalo. Last year's successful applicants would be awarded licenses for the coming hunt, along with the 16 permits allocated to Montana's Indian Tribes. The remaining 24 licenses would be allocated through a special drawing to be held in October 2005. Applications could be available as soon as mid-August, with a deadline tentatively scheduled for September 30. A cost for applications and licenses had not been proposed, but last year applicants were required to possess a current General Conservation License available over the counter for $9.25, and successful applicants were to purchase a bison license, which costs nonresidents $750.
The proposed bison hunt is designed to allow Montana hunters the opportunity to hunt wild, free-ranging buffalo under fair chase conditions, while helping to reduce damage to private property. The hunt is not designed to regulate buffalo population numbers, a process already being addressed through the Interagency Bison Management Plan. This would........(continued)