The National Park Service (NPS) has been looking for volunteers who are “good with guns” to kill bison in the Grand Canyon. Currently statistics state there are 600 bison in the area, and wildlife personnel say there must be 200 or less to adequately maintain a sustainable habitat. Wildlife experts predict the current herd could grow to 1,500 if left unchecked.
The Flagstaff area bison are descendants of those introduced to northern Arizona in the early 1900s as part of a ranching operation to crossbreed them with cattle. Now owned by the state of Arizona, there is an annual draw for tags on the Kaibab National Forest where 1,500 people have applied for one of 122 tags this year, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Hunters are only allowed to kill one bison in their lifetime which makes the prospect even more exciting to those who like to hunt.
“The Grand Canyon is still working out details of the volunteers effort, but it’s taking cues from national parks in Colorado, the Dakotas and Wyoming that have used shooters to cut overabundant or diseased populations of elk,” the NPS stated on their website.
The park is off limits to hunters where the bison currently live. The most recent plan includes a hunter teaming up with a “Park Service employee to shoot bison using non-lead ammunition” because of the presence of the California condors. Hunters will have to pass rigorous health tests to ensure they are able to hike several miles a day and shoot at a precise target.
Some bison will be transferred to other areas. According to the USA Today, Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club says she’s hopeful the staff at the Grand Canyon will focus mostly on non-lethal removal.
As to what would happen to the heads, hide and meat from the bisons? State officials have stated they would be given to state agencies and tribes or even split among the volunteers.
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