- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - The non-trophy bison hunting season has begun at Custer State Park.

Though it typically takes place in the fall during the annual Buffalo Roundup, this year’s non-trophy season began Jan. 25.

The non-trophy hunt is mean to remove excess cows and bulls from the herd. The cows are selected on fertility and average 1,000 pounds, while the bulls primarily are 2 years old and average about 950 pounds.

A non-trophy bull permit costs $2,256, and a cow permit costs $1,756. Permits are available to South Dakota residents and people from outside the state.

There are 15 non-trophy bull and 10 cow permit holders this season. Each of them gets to keep the meat, head and hide of the bison they kill.

Gary and Cole Blom, a father and son from Yankton, were the first permit holders to take a shot this season, guided by a buffalo herd manager at the park, the Black Hills Pioneer (http://bit.ly/1L2mqWO ) reported. They were taking the meat back to Yankton to be processed, and planned to send the hides to Michigan for tanning.

The non-trophy bison season is scheduled to go through March 11.

Trophy bison hunts are a management tool to remove the oldest breeding bulls from the herd. Those hunts typically are limited to bulls over 10 years old and about 2,000 pounds.

A trophy bull permit costs $5,000. The number of trophy licenses has dropped from 10 to eight over the last couple of years because the older bulls can have a fairly high mortality rate after the summer rut from injuries, meaning fewer are necessary to cull.

The trophy bison hunt ran from Nov. 30 to Jan. 15.

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