JACKSON, Wyo.— Hunters killed 34 bison in the first 48 hours of the hunting season on the National Elk Refuge, Wyoming wildlife managers said.
The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports (http://tinyurl.com/d63ekhw) that hunters took eight bulls, 25 cows and one calf between Wednesday and Friday.
"We had a very good day," said Tim Fuchs, regional wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "Last year, we only took 19 on the opening day."
From 2007 to 2011, hunters took an average of just 11 animals on opening day.
A 2007 plan drawn up by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service to manage elk and bison on the National Elk Refuge called for reducing the size of the bison herd to about 500 from 1,200.
An aerial survey done last winter counted 910.
Bison have a high reproductive rate and low mortality rate, Fuchs said, which makes it difficult to reduce their numbers. Cows and calves are also less accessible to hunters than bulls, he said.
To increase the number of bison hunters take, Game and Fish uses a series of 11 periods when bison hunting is allowed on the refuge and surrounding lands on the Bridger-Teton National Forest between mid-August and January.
Officials say the stop-and-start format helps lure the bison out of Grand Teton National Park, where hunting is prohibited, and into the refuge and the national forest.
Fuchs said the approach has had mixed results.
"Things settle down, they come back up. We've been able to have some success," he said.
Wyoming Game and Fish issued 410 of the once-in-a-lifetime bison permits this year. Of those, 300 licenses are for cows or calves and 110 are "either-sex" tags.
Success rates tend to be high for the bison hunt. Last year, 227 hunters took 194 bison, a success rate of 85 percent.