WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. (AP) _ Activists protesting a limited buffalo hunt along the borders of Yellowstone National Park smeared one hunter with the blood of his prey in one of several confrontations this week.

Eleven protesters recruited by the Fund for Animals used snowmobiles and cross-country skis in efforts to get between hunters and the bison, which had strayed across the park boundary into Montana. Despite their efforts, three of the 18 bison were killed Tuesday.

The state approved the bison hunt because half of Yellowstone Park's buffalo carry brucellosis, a disease that can be transmitted to domestic cattle and cause them to abort their young.

The protesters say the hunt is wrong, and have called on federal and state officials to find a way to manage the animals without killing them.

Hal Stemmer of Billings, one of the hunters, said that after he had killed a buffalo Tuesday, ''one of the more dramatic of the individuals dipped her hands in blood and then rubbed blood on my face and said the spirit of the buffalo would now go with me.''

On Wednesday, those involved traded accusations. One hunter said a protester jabbed him with a ski pole.

State game warden Dave Etzwiler denied one protester's accusation that he tackled the activist, but acknowledged pushing him from in front of a hunter's gun.

''I thought he was going to get shot,'' Etzwiler said.