The Montana hunt for bison that leave Yellowstone National Park opens today, with the state providing nearly triple the licenses available last year. Shane Colton of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission said the increase to 140 licenses is a step toward better management of the bison herd. The activist group Buffalo Field Campaign opposes any hunting of Yellowstone bison and said the license increase simply worsens a bad idea. Hunters will be divided into two districts, one the Gardiner area near the park’s northern edge and the other near West Yellowstone, along the park’s western edge. Hunting will be staggered over a three-month span and will end Feb. 15. Montana’s first bison hunt in 15 Years took place last fall and winter. The license increase and its focus on bison cows makes the hunt more of a herd management tool, Colton said. The state considers the hunt part of a plan to manage bison that migrate from Yellowstone and may carry the disease brucellosis, which is present in Yellowstone’s bison herds. Some ranchers fear wandering bison will spread the disease to cattle in Montana, where it has been eradicated. A state-federal management plan allows for bison that stray to be hazed back into the park, or captured and in some cases shipped to slaughter. Hundreds have been sent to slaughter this year. Yellowstone officials earlier this year estimated the park had 3,500 bison. The bison management plan lists a target population size of 3,000.