Bison harvested from the Delta Junction Alaska herd, a controlled hunt. Image credit:OutdoorsDirectory.com
I love the American Bison. Love to watch them in the wild and love to eat them. Just as they did back in the 1800's, cattle ranchers and farmers continue to dislike them. In the Alaskan Delta Junction region, for example, there is an ongoing debate over how best to manage free ranging bison. Farmers want to fence Delta bison out of croplands and make the wild herd of around 400 head even smaller. Hunters think the solution is to keep the herd as is, and fences to a minimum. The State manages the herd by controlling the number of permits to hunt and the timing.
The hunter's position makes sense to me because the ancestors of these bison were brought from the National Bison Range in Montana, in 1928 to "provide an additional game species for hunters." The Alaska Daily News explains that this hunt, small as it is, is extremely popular. And yet, the farmer's position also makes sense.
The Delta bison hunt, which normally opens Oct. 1, is the most popular drawing permit hunt in the state. It attracts more than 10,000 applications each year for about 100 permits. The state issued 70 bull permits and 50 cow permits this year.This link provides an example of how the hunt is controlled: e.g. terms and reporting conditions for successful hunt applicants.
History and economics of the Delta Junction State Bison Range are described in detail at this link.
The Daily Journal reports that "A crop damage assessment conducted last fall estimated that bison caused more than $142,000 worth of damage to crop lands."
If the applicant-to-permit ratio is that high for the permit drawing, 100 to 1, respectively, I'm surprised that the State does not charge something more for the permits and pass additional funds along to the farmers who have experienced crop loss (grain crops for the most part).