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Grand Canyon Officials Seek Volunteers To Cull North Rim Bison Herd


National Park Service officials are calling for volunteers to assist with the lethal removal of bison from the Grand Canyon’s North Rim later this year. Officials say the growing herd often tramples water resources, vegetation and sensitive archaeological sites. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Grand Canyon officials say a dozen volunteers will be chosen by lottery for the hunts over four five-day periods beginning in September. Participants must be able to pass background and marksmanship tests and provide their own equipment. Each volunteer will be allowed to take one bison carcass.

Park and Arizona wildlife officials for years have debated how to best cull the North Rim herd and reached an agreement last fall.

About 600 bison are estimated to live in the area. They’re descended from a herd crossbred with cattle brought to the North Rim in the early 1900s for ranching. The park aims to reduce the herd to about 200 in the coming years.

Alicyn Gitlin with the Sierra Club, however, worries the efforts are too little too late, and that non-lethal bison removal is more effective and humane. Since 2019, park biologists have transported 88 live bison from the North Rim to five Indigenous tribes. Officials say those efforts will also continue in the fall.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered 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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