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Arizona Wildlife Officials, Park Service Make Deal To Reduce North Rim Bison Herd


The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Park Service have reached a deal to reduce the number of bison near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The agreement allows officials to capture and relocate some bison that roam between the Grand Canyon’s northern boundary and the Kaibab Plateau. It also lets Park Service-vetted volunteers shoot and kill some of the animals and remove the carcasses.

"Selected skilled volunteers will be able to take up to a single bison including head, hide and meat in exchange for removing the carcass from the field," said Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Kurt Davis in a press release. "The Game and Fish Department will provide the volunteer with the necessary permit to possess and transport the carcass from Grand Canyon National Park. There will be no waste of game meat, and no waste of tax dollars to contract for paid sharpshooters."

According to the Park Service, the herd’s population could grow to almost 800 in the coming years without management. Officials say the bison, that can grow to more than 2,000 pounds, trample water resources, vegetation, soils and archaeological sites. They aim to reduce the herd to less than 200.

Since last year, officials have relocated nearly a hundred bison to five Native American tribes to augment herds they already manage.

The animals were brought to the House Rock Valley in the early 1900s, and now mainly live within the park boundary where hunting is normally off limits.

The Park Service says it’ll provide more details in its annual operating plan. The hunts could start next fall.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an 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 Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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