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.