National Park Service Seeking Volunteer Grand Canyon Bison Hunters

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The National Park Service is asking for volunteers to help manage the overpopulated Grand Canyon bison herd. (Photo: NPS/Facebook)

The National Park Service is looking for competent hunters to volunteer to help thin the Grand Canyon bison herd. The herd size is getting too large for the area, damaging park resources including water sources.

The bison herd has about 600 head, and the Park Service says the area should only support about 200. On top of that, the herd is moving into territory where normal hunting is banned. If the herd isn’t culled the Park Service estimates that it will grow to over 1,500 animals in the next 10 years.

As a result the Park Service is hosting a lottery for hunters. They are issuing 122 tags in the first year. Hunters must not only prove their marksmanship to qualify, they must also be physically capable of hunting in the region on foot. Selected hunters will receive a once-per-lifetime tag.

The National Park Service and its Grand Canyon staff are still working out all the plan’s details. It’s possible that some of the herd will be relocated. Still, culling is a simpler and cost-effective way to deal with overpopulation.

“I would go if I had a chance to retain a portion of the meat,” said hunter Travis McClendon to KSDK. “It definitely would be worth going, especially with a group.”

The team is modeling the hunt on multiple successful culls in Colorado, North and South Dakota and Wyoming. These Western states have had to deal with overpopulated and diseased elk herds in the past.

Organizing hunters is just one part of the task. The Park Service also needs to ensure that the volunteers picked are up to the job. While the Park Service will pack out the bison heads, hides and meat on snowmobiles and sleds — and by helicopter if necessary — the hunters won’t be allowed to use vehicles while hunting.

Currently, requirements are likely to include that hunters be capable of putting a 5-shot group on a paper plate at 200 yards. That works out to just over 4 MOA. Physically the hunters must be capable of hiking 8 miles a day carrying a 60-pound pack.

The physical requirements are realistically steeper than the shooting requirements. Most of the hunt will take place on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, at altitudes of around 8,000 feet. Planners expect the hunt to take place while the park is closed, in October through May.

See Also: Hunters Add $110 Billion to the Economy says NSSF

Park organizers faced a similar challenge in North Dakota in 2010. Some volunteers did not make it through a week.

“We had quite a bit of snow, so you’re not in a vehicle, you’re not on a horse,” said Theodore Roosevelt National Park spokeswoman Eileen Andes. “You’re hiking through snow to shoot elk and haul them out. It was exceedingly strenuous.”

Because the bison belong to the state of Arizona, the heads and hides of the bison will be shared between tribes and federal and state agencies. The meat will be portioned out between the hunters.

Ranchers introduced these bison to the state at the turn of the 20th century to cross-breed with cattle. The National Park Service will release more details about the volunteer program when they’re finalized.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • jack September 16, 2017, 8:46 am

    This hunt is for young physically fit kids that can shoot decently, well, when I look around these days there’s not many of these kids that fit this bill except armed services personnel so let our vets who qualify get first dibs at this. I’m an old Viet Nam vet that would love to do this hunt and can put five rounds into two inches at 200 yards but by these requirements don’t qualify due to arthritis and COPD, seems kind of a discrimination but hey,that’s our guv’ment they can get away with this.

  • James September 16, 2017, 3:53 am

    Daniel Boone retired back to his old homestead. At the same time he did the last Eastern Bison was killed by settlers. Not for the meat or hide. But to just rid it from the land. Boone cried when he heard that the the Last Bison had been killed. He stated that, had he known what devistation the setttles would do to the land and wildlife then he would have never revealed the way West through the Cumberland Gap. What I have never understood is that the only solution every administration has come up with is to kill off the animals instead of relocating them. The wild horse population is thought to be too big, by some DC bureaucrat, so they are killed off. I must then conclude that the large numbers of Bald Eagles, and other protectes species which are killed daily by wind turbines, is a DC buracrat’s plan to keep them under control too. So we must ask, what’s next? At that we must look to the mandatory health care that the DC scum forced on allof us. None of them are signed-up for Obama Care. But we are. And health care in our country for the rest of us is slowly heading the way of the folks across the pond. Are we the human species, who contribute, the next to be thinned out in order to give more benifits to the classes that don’t contribute? I would think the next time I sight in my weapon on an animal that the DC scum wants thinned out; am I next? Think about it. Marble mouth Mitch makes a 6-figure salary but has made 24 million since being in the senate. The all for show Interior Secretary is pictured on horseback so as to make him look like one of us. But is he really? If he were so bloody smart then he would find another way to thin the Bison herds rather then killing them.
    What the DC scum is really saying is this: They have failed to improve the Bison gene pool. So their answer is to kill them off. Wildlife management! Looks like a repeat of the time when the Bison herds were killed almost to zero.
    The answer the DC idiots haven’t thought od is: Decrease the number of Yuppie scum, who believe it is their right to tramp their way across our national parks without restriction. Leave our national treasure to the animals. And leave the Yuppie scum to their upscale urban environment.

  • Jeff September 15, 2017, 10:17 am

    Sign me up. I would love to help.

  • Alan September 15, 2017, 10:12 am

    So essentially, you’re gonna work your ass off for several hundred pounds of meat, possibly a lot less.
    If others are not successful, and you are, YOU lose!!!!!!!
    And the HUNTER will be required to carry out the hide and head, that’s a ton of work.
    Not to mention the loss of the hide (which would be a great memento of a once in a lifetime hunt) and the expense of qualifying, travel, and so on.
    Stupid.

    • Stan September 15, 2017, 9:06 pm

      So, they’re going to cheat the hunters out of their game? Why don’t they trap and sell the bison to ranchers? Also, culling 2/3rds of the herd will lead to inbreeding = unhealthy future animals.
      Your idiot govt. bureaucrats at work(again).

    • Rick September 16, 2017, 8:24 pm

      Alan go back and read the article real slow, you did not get it the first time. It very clearly states that the head’s, hides & meat will be transported out by the state park people.

  • M. Atkinson September 15, 2017, 9:04 am

    More federal and state CRAP, heads and hides shared between the tribes?, why?, a portion of the meat?, here’s socialism at work for you.
    Permits should be handed out to participants, and the whole Buffalo Should belong to the person who shot it period!
    Why would I spend all the money to get there, take time off work, etc. only to be given a small portion of meat for my troubles?
    Sounds like one big plop of Buffalo Chip to me.
    LMAO, I don’t think so !

  • A. Brent Harshbarger September 15, 2017, 8:39 am

    Yes sign me up!!! It would be great for a couple of guys hunting together. Please post a link for the sign up.
    Thank you, Brent

  • Luke September 15, 2017, 7:27 am

    REQUIRE NPS employees to shoot ’em. Let’s see if they measure up to their own physical and marksmanship standards. That whole damn outfit has needed a face lift for a long time. Except for most of the maintenance division, NPS employees are largely rabid leftist feminists in need of rabies vaccine and anti-gun land-grabbers. Damn hypocrites: “let’s get someone else to do the killing because we’re the good guys with the Smokey Bear hats and tourists are impressed with our interpretive shows.” This is the same outfit that re-writes history and feeds it to tourists as truth. At least authorize any USDI-NPS employee who measures up to shoot and see how that goes.

    • Dr Motown September 15, 2017, 8:20 am

      I agree! Why have ridiculous restrictions like this? If you want to cull the herd, get as many hunters in there as expeditiously as possible. If it requires a horse, ATV, or motorized bike to access the herd, SO WHAT?

      • Dave Hicks September 15, 2017, 9:21 am

        I agree ,that kind of country you need a horse.What about packing the head,hide ad meat out ?

        • Stan September 15, 2017, 9:11 pm

          No problem. NPS says they’ll hire some Illegals to help you pack-out. LOL

      • Luke September 15, 2017, 11:38 am

        “Why have ridiculous restrictions like this? If you want to cull the herd, get as many hunters in there as expeditiously as possible.”
        Man, this is mild compared to normal NPS mode of operation. Get boats, snow machines or ATV’s involved and you’ll see how nuts that outfit really is – rangers would be in airplanes, choppers, mountain bikes. There’d be satellites and trail cams involved too. If there was ever an agency so full of itself, it’s USDI’s National Park Service. Fish and Wildlife Service is a very close second.

    • JS September 15, 2017, 9:42 am

      As a NPS retiree, I have to sadly admit to your entire post. I was a maintenance leader and saw first hand everything you described. It was the downside to working alongside these people, very few were manly enough to even hunt, let alone shoot a firearm competently. I considered becoming a Ranger at one time, qualified on the range course, and ended up rejecting the position, mainly because I made more money in my maintenance job. However, if I were 10 years younger, I would apply for the permit because I love buffalo meat so much….haha

      • Luke September 15, 2017, 11:56 am

        Congratulations on your federal retirement. Me too. Four departments, five agencies, thirty-one years. Why my brain isn’t pouring out my butt is a mystery. Good with the bad but the bad is REALLY bad. You already know that.

        Every time I see stuff like this, I can’t help but remember all the unnecessary egocentric, SJW (social justice warrior) bullshit in the Department of Interior. Most of that entire damn department likely voted clinton.

        • Stan September 15, 2017, 9:14 pm

          You need to put out there what you know from being an insider. Stuff the MSM will never look into or tell. Bet you could write a book.

  • Ryan fradella September 14, 2017, 7:07 pm

    I would love to do the hunt and help where do I go to sign up

  • Gary Huffman September 14, 2017, 4:33 pm

    What the hell????? Relocate them!!!!! This is our High School Mascot!!!! Buffalo Gap Highschool Swope Virginia!!! Relocate them!!!!¡

    • VanThe Man September 15, 2017, 4:15 am

      Relocate them? Hell Yeah! To my FREEZER!!! Bison are dang tasty, and a lot healthier than eating beef…

    • Blasted Cap September 15, 2017, 6:43 am

      If you pay for it I’m sure your high school would be more than happy to let them graze on the football field.

  • Mike Pratcshler September 13, 2017, 6:17 pm

    I would like to sign up for the volunteer Bison Hunt
    Thanks Mike P

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