First Bison Hunt At Grand Canyon National Park Asking For Volunteers To Kill Hundreds Of Animals
The Grand Canyon National Park is asking for ‘skilled volunteers’ to take part in its first bison hunt in an effort to reduce the population of animals in the area.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the National Park Service announced the application process for the hunt earlier this week, explaining that the bison currently roaming the park have long been considered a nuisance in the area.
It is estimated there are currently 400-600 bison located at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, having descended from 86 buffalo brought to the area 115 years ago by a rancher named Charles ‘Buffalo’ Jones, and over time the animals have been known to damage water sources, trample vegetation and harm archaeological sites.
Alicyn Gitlin, the Grand Canyon Program Manager for the Sierra Club’s Arizona Chapter, said areas are ‘really taking a hit’ due to the expanding population.
She told USA Today:
Twenty years ago, I remember going up to the North Rim and just being overwhelmed with the beauty of all these wildflowers and meadows and rare plants.
When I went back around 2014, it was heartbreaking to me because everything looked like a cow pasture.
The Grand Canyon National Park is set to begin ‘a pilot lethal removal program’ in September 2021, where skilled hunters who meet the requirements will each be given a week in which to hunt bison until the program comes to an end on October 29.
On its website, the organisation explains that while hunting serves ‘both public and private purposes’, lethal removal ‘serves a public purpose’ as animals are ‘destroyed primarily for management purposes.’
A total of 12 volunteers will be chosen by a random lottery involving 25 qualified applicants, who must be able to move the animals’ bodies without motorised assistance. The goal of the hunt is to reduce the herd by 200 animals.
While removing some of the bison could offer ecological and cosmetic benefits, Gitlin has expressed concerns that the hunt will ‘become a regular thing’ and encourage more hunts in national parks in the future.
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National Parks Service