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Standing guard

A dominant bull stands guard over his harem as the breeding season begins on the Flying D Ranch southwest of Bozeman. Demand for domestic bison meat right now is much higher than producers can fill.

BILLINGS — A conservation group attempting to piece together the largest private wildlife reserve in the United States says it will allow eight hunters a chance to kill bison on the grasslands of north-central Montana.

American Prairie Reserve spokeswoman Becky Lonardo said Tuesday its bison herd has almost 900 animals. Also known as buffalo, they roam on portions of 623 square miles that the group controls along the Missouri River.

The reserve for the first time next year will offer bison hunts to four people from surrounding communities, two hunts to be auctioned online and two to be given to other organizations.

Since 2001, American Prairie has raised more than $100 million with a goal of creating a nearly 5,500 square-mile reserve — an area larger than Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks combined.

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