National Park Service Requests Volunteers to Kill Bison Overpopulation in Grand Canyon

The US National Park Service (NPS) has requested volunteers to help with bison overpopulation to which over 45,000 people have applied to kill bison in the Grand Canyon. The famous national park in Arizona is looking for 12 skilled volunteers to control the herd, which has grown large enough to cause ecological damage.

In cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), NPS posted a webpage seeking people “skilled” in “bison removal.” The event is not being termed as a hunt, as hunting is banned in the US national parks. Some environmentalists have advised against the move, as it could offset a dangerous precedent.

The NPS opened a lottery and closed after 48 hours with 45,040 applicants. An initial 25 applicants will be selected. After being evaluated by park officials for skills including marksmanship, 12 people will be given the chance to kill a bison in the park’s North Rim area.

According to the official website,

In addition to removal, Grand Canyon National Park biologists began piloting live capture and relocation in 2019. Since the program began, 88 animals have been captured and relocated to five American Indian Tribes through an agreement with the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council. These animals will augment existing herds managed by these Tribes.

According to the NPS rules, volunteers are allowed to bring a support crew along. The event will take place in rugged, rocky and snowy terrain, with elevations exceeding 8,000 feet.

Officials say the pilot program is required after the herd quickly grew to 600 bison in the past few years. The NPS aims to bring the herd residing on the North Rim down to 200 in order to reduce trampling of Native American archaeological sites, soil erosion and water contamination.

National Park Service Requests Volunteers to Kill Bison Overpopulation in Grand Canyon

NPS has requested volunteers to kill bison in the Grand Canyon to which over 45,000 people have applied | Image: Matthew Brown/AP

Prior to being hunted to near extinction in the 19th century, bison roamed across much of the continent. An estimated 30 to 60 million bison were reduced to only about 400 by the late 1800s.

However, the environmentalists are worried about the species in the region, as there is little evidence that the Grand Canyon was ever part of their historical range.

According to historians, the North Rim herd was introduced to the area after a frontiersman’s unsuccessful effort to interbreed bison with cattle in the early 1900s.

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