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Grand Canyon National Park to hold bison reduction program

National Park Service to hold bison elimination program

Photo credit: Dreamstime

This September, bison will be lethally removed along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon by the National Park Service (NPS) as part of a pilot program to reign in a rapidly growing bison population. Around 600 bison currently reside within this specific area and, because of this high population, the Grand Canyon has experienced “impacts from grazing and trampling on water, vegetation, soils, and archaeological sites” that requires action to limit further damage, according to NPS.

The goal is to reduce the number of bison to about 200 animals.

The pilot program will be run by Grand Canyon NPS staff. Approved members of Arizona’s general removal volunteer program and 11 tribes will help cull the animals. NPS is working closely with tribes on this program because of the important cultural and traditional use of bison and tribal partners have requested access to bison meat, hides and animal parts for traditional uses.

During 2021, there will be four lethal removal operations that last five days each. If you are selected as a volunteer, you must attend a training day on the first day and are expected to participate in a full week of work. These operational periods will be Sept. 20 to 24, Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, Oct. 18 to 22 and Oct. 25 to 29. You will be assigned an operational period to work in.

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While the joint removal with local tribes will likely begin in the fall of 2022, individual tribal members are also welcome to participate through the state’s general removal volunteer program.

Individuals who are interested in applying to be volunteers can submit an application here beginning at 12 a.m. (Arizona time) on May 3 through 11:59 p.m. on May 4, 2021. Volunteers must:

  • Be U.S. citizens 18 years of age or older with valid photo ID
  • Have the ability to purchase and pass a background investigation and have no criminal or wildlife violations
  • Self-certify a high level of physical fitness ability
  • Have a firearm safety certification and pass a marksmanship proficiency test (3 of 5 shots in a 4-inch circle at 100 yards)
  • Provide their own equipment, firearm, lodging, food and field dressing supplies. See firearm FAQs.
  • Be available for the entirety of one of the assigned lethal removal operational periods. Individuals may not participate in more than one: Sept. 20-24, 2021; Sept. 27-Oct 1, 2021; Oct. 18-22, 2021; Oct. 25-29, 2021
  • Meet all additional requirements listed on the NPS FAQ page and on the application (the application will be available here when the application period opens).

Only 25 applicants will be selected to form the pool from which 12 qualified individuals will be chosen to become a skilled volunteer. The volunteer pool will be selected using a random lottery system and selected individuals will be contacted by the NPS by May 17, 2021. At the end of the week, volunteers may be given up to one bison in exchange for removal by AZGFD. Employees of the National Park Service or other Department of the Interior agencies, as well as employees of the Arizona Game and Fish Department or members of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, are not eligible to apply.

For more information on the bison reduction program, click here.

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