Park Service Will Seek Volunteers to Thin Grand Canyon Bison Herd
September 18, 2017 at 5:13 am
A bison herd has taken up residence on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. | Flickr user K O
The National Park Service has approved a plan to reduce the number of bison on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
And soon, the Park Service will be seeking a few good hunters.
As the Associated Press reported last week, the agency this month approved a plan, up for comment earlier this year, to thin the non-native North Rim herd to no more than 200 animals within three to five years. That's a decrease of at least 50 percent from the 400 to 600 bison estimated to currently roam that section of the Kaibab Plateau.
The details of the plan are still being finalized, but it's expected to include shipping some of the bison out of the area, the AP reported. Some of those that remain would then be further culled by volunteer hunters picked via a lottery. (The bison are managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and are hunted legally in the state, but hunting is currently prohibited within park boundaries, where the bison now spend most of their time.)
Much of the hunting would be done between October and May, when the North Rim is closed because of snow. As such, snowmobiles, sleds and even helicopters would be used to remove bison meat, the AP reported. Parts of the bison, such as the head and hide, would then be given to local tribes, while each volunteer would get a portion of the meat.
The AP says the Park Service plans to seek hunters who can manage the hostile winter conditions. Requirements might include being able to hike 8 miles in a day, carry a 60-pound pack and shoot a paper plate five times from 200 yards away.
National Park Service sites in Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas have used similar methods for elk reduction, the AP reported.