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Park Service Opposing Bill to Cull Grand Canyon Bison Herd

AP Photo/The Avalanche-Journal, Josie Musico

The National Park Service is opposing a U.S. Senate bill designed to reduce the number of bison at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, park officials say it would interfere with their own bison management study currently in the works.

The bill was introduced earlier this year by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake. It would allow the general public to obtain hunting permits for bison effectively reducing their numbers within Grand Canyon National Park. Park officials say the bill may violate the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to look at multiple alternatives before taking action through hunting, which is illegal in the park.

The herd of more than 600 bison is being blamed for polluting water sources, destroying vegetation and trampling archaeological sites. In recent years, bison numbers have exploded there.

If passed, the bill would give the Park Service 180 days to put a bison management plan in motion. The Park Service’s internal study is set for release early next year.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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