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North Rim Bison reduction plan on track

(Photo: James Marvin Phelps/Flickr)

Wildlife managers at Grand Canyon National Park say nearly 60 bison have been relocated from the north rim to Oklahoma and South Dakota through the InterTribal Buffalo Council. It’s part of a larger plan to reduce herd size as well as the animals’ environmental impact on the park.

In past years, volunteer hunters have been allowed a chance to help cull the herd. But this year, only live capture and relocation methods were used, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The original Kaibab Plateau herd of about 600 was introduced to the area in the 1990’s. Left alone that number would have doubled in a decade.

In recent years, there’s been growing concern among state, federal and Tribal agencies regarding their environmental impact at the park, specifically citing habitat for other animals, vegetation, and archaeological sites. Park officials say the goal is to keep the herd size under 200, and that the latest relocation brings it closer to that range.

The InterTribal Buffalo Council is a Native American-run non-profit specializing in the transfer of buffalo from national parks to Tribal lands. The relocated bison will be managed by eight Tribes across four states, including the Cheyenne River Sioux in South Dakota and the Iowa Tribe in Oklahoma.