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Bison hunting could expand in state

Aug 28, 2012 The Associated Press

JACKSON -- Wyoming may expand bison hunting because the state's population is above management goals.

The Wyoming Legislature might consider a bill to increase the number of cows that can be taken by hunters.

A proposal by Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, would end the once-in-a-lifetime rule for harvesting cows and replace it with a once-every-five-year rule. His draft legislation also proposes lowering the cost of a cow bison license for nonresidents from $2,500 to $1,000.

"Only six non-residents hunted a cow bison last year," Gingery said in a statement. He said he has met with National Elk Refuge managers and with officials from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to discuss the changes.

Regulated bison hunting in Jackson Hole didn't start until 2007 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service completed a Bison and Elk Management Plan. The plan required the agencies to decrease the population of the herd from the 1,200 bison counted then to about 500.

Five years in, wildlife managers have made decent progress. An aerial survey last winter counted 910 bison.

The decline is too slow, Gingery said.

"When I was growing up, there was 50 (bison in the Jackson herd), and they've grown exponentially," he said. "We need to get that back down to a manageable herd."

Hunters should be enlisted to help, Gingery said.

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