October 19, 2020

Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the National Park Service Enter into Agreement to Reduce Grand Canyon National Park Bison Herd

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

On October 1, the National Park Service (NPS) published a news release stating that the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and NPS entered into an agreement in late September to reduce the bison population that resides on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.

The agreement states that a number of tools for herd reduction are available, including live capture and translocations, hazing, and lethal removal by skilled volunteers. According to the NPS news release, “given the current distribution, abundance, density and the expected growth of this herd, the public and the NPS is concerned about increased impacts on park resources such as water, vegetation, soils, archaeological sites and values such as visitor experience and wilderness character. Reducing the herd size to under 200 bison will protect the ecosystem, park resources and values.” 2014 estimates put the current bison herd population between 400 and 600 individuals.

The agreement further describes the process whereby staff from Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and Grand Canyon National Park will work together on lethal removal protocols. AZGFD will assist NPS with the selection of qualified volunteers through a random selection process. Selected volunteers will go through additional vetting by NPS, including a background check and a firearms proficiency test.

“Selected skilled volunteers will be able to take up to a single bison, including head, hide and meat in exchange for removing the carcass from the field. The Game and Fish Department will provide the volunteer with the necessary permit to possess and transport the carcass from Grand Canyon National Park,” said Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Kurt Davis. “There will be no waste of game meat, and no waste of tax dollars to contract for paid sharpshooters.”

Individuals interested in participating are asked not to call NPS or AZGFD. There will be an announcement when volunteers will be recruited in 2021.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has supported similar efforts by the US Forest Service and AZGFD to improve management of the House Rock Wildlife Area bison herd, located within the Kaibab National Forest. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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