Grand Canyon Bison Herd Reduction Sought

Authorities are calling for a reduction of the size of the bison herd on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The National Park Service reports that the herd is approximately 400 to 600 animals and will be reduced over the next three to five years.

The goal of the culling is to reduce the herd to fewer than 200.

The National Park Service (NPS) prepared an Initial Bison Herd Reduction Environmental Assessment (EA) which evaluated management actions that would reduce the herd. NPS Intermountain Regional Director Sue Masica signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) authorizing the Park to proceed with the selected action which is designed to quickly reduce bison population density.

Given the current distribution, abundance, density, and the expected growth of this herd, the NPS says it 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 will protect Park resources and values.

NPS biologists estimate that the herd has grown from approximately 100 bison, brought to the House Rock Wildlife Area in the early 1900s, to between 400 to 600 bison. Though the bison roam the Kaibab Plateau, they spend most of their time on the North Rim of the park. Biologists predict that the herd could grow to nearly 800 in the next three years and be as large as 1200 to 1500 animals within 10 years without further management actions to control the size of the herd.

Multiple agencies are involved with bison management on the Kaibab Plateau including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

8 Comments on "Grand Canyon Bison Herd Reduction Sought"

  1. how many ‘used to be there’?

    • None. Bison are not native to Arizona and never have been. Of the 20-30 million bison that used to range North America, Arizona was never part of their distribution.

      • That’s why theree are so many fossils of them in AZ. Along with finding their bones at the Clovis site in NM (over 11,000 years). Not counting the Folsom sites (over 10,000 years) along with the Hohokam sites (around 300 AD), along with Anasazi, Hopewell and many others. There was even written Army orders stating to kill all wild life to include buffalo in AZ to starve the Indians out. Which can be found at the Library of Congress under Annals of Congress plus under American Memory at the library site.

  2. Perhaps they should reduce the number of cattle they allow to graze there from ranchers along with giving or selling a number of the buffalo to the Tribes, and other places. A lot better than just killing them because they don’t make a profit.

    • For your information, Mike, the ITBC (Intertribal Buffalo Council), consisting of 63 tribes in 20 states, is a cooperating agency with Grand Canyon National Park and the State of Arizona with regard to their efforts to get their buffalo population to a sustainable level and to continue to manage the herd in the future by removals through sharpshooting and live transfers to the tribes. Cattle grazing is not allowed in Grand Canyon National Park.

      • According to the BLM and BIA both the Kane and Two Mile Ranch hold permits for one fourth of the cattle allowed by the Canyon Trust. Not counting having seen more cattle than buffalo not long ago. On top of that there are also sheep allowed to graze that land with permits from the BLM and BIA.
        By Federal law congress has to approve any sells and or give aways to the Tribes, and it can be done only to Tribes that are federally recognized which are less than half of all the Tribes in this Country. Sen. McCain has stopped or prolonged 70% of those.

        • Nonetheless, Mike, livestock grazing has not been allowed on the lands to which this article actually pertains — the lands administered by the National Park Service that are located within the boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park — since 1919. Neither Canyon Trust nor BLM, nor BIA administered lands, for that matter, are located within the boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park and none of the aforementioned have any authority, whatsoever, to issue permits to allow grazing on lands other than that which they own or lawfully administer. Moreover, whether you choose to recognize it or not, the ITBC, consisting of 63 tribes in 20 states is, in fact, specifically recognized as a cooperating agency by both the federal government (in the form of the NPS and Grand Canyon National Park) and the State of Arizona in regard to the development of this specific, Buffalo management project. To suggest otherwise on either count is simply both wrong and disingenuous.

  3. Jerome R Petruk | September 13, 2017 at 2:23 pm |

    If done right, the thinning can be done by hunters who would pay for a license. Resident tags for Bison range $363 for a yearling to $1,113 for a bull. Non-resident tags are higher. This would be a win-win for everyone.

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