The National Park Service (NPS) announced this week that they are looking for volunteers to help cull a bison herd located on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
The bison are not threatened by any natural predators, so the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the NPS entered an agreement to cull the herds in order to avoid the “refuge effect.” The herd currently stands at about 600 individuals but could grow to as many as 1,500 in the next ten years.
“Given the current distribution, abundance, density and the expected growth of this herd, the public and the NPS is concerned about increased impacts on park resources such as water, vegetation, soils, archaeological sites and values such as visitor experience and wilderness character. Reducing the herd size to under 200 bison will protect the ecosystem, park resources and values,” the agencies said in a joint press release last September.
Culling methods include live capture and translocations, hazing, and most pertinent to would-be bison hunters, lethal removal by “skilled volunteers.”
Interested hunters can apply here beginning at 12 a.m. midnight (Arizona time) on Monday, May 3, 2021. The portal will be open for 48 hours, and applicants will be chosen in a lottery as long as they meet certain criteria.
“Skilled volunteers” must meet the following criteria to be selected:
- Provide a pictured proof of identity (driver’s license, passport)
- Be a United States citizen
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Provide proof of successful completion of a firearms safety course (hunter safety course or similar)
- Be willing to haul bison carcasses out of wilderness on foot without motorized assistance
- Utilize park-approved, non-lead ammunition and firearms (see Firearm FAQs)
- Agree to a firearm safety inspection by park staff prior to fieldwork
- Actively participate in all training and safety briefings and follow Team Lead instructions.
- Have strong verbal communication skills.
- Sign up as an unpaid NPS volunteer (NPS VIP Program) for five days and participate in the full period
- Sign a volunteer applicant affidavit of criminal history and lack revocable wildlife violation histories
- Be able to pass, apply for, and purchase background checks that verify the lack of criminal and wildlife violation histories.
- Self-certify a high level of physical fitness.
- Provide own equipment, lodging, food, rifle (rifles must be at least .30 caliber with a bottlenecked cartridge), and non-lead ammunition (non-lead bullet that is at least 165 grains and is of a non-frangible design), and field dressing supplies.
- Have a firearm safety certification and pass a firearms proficiency test (3 of 5 shots in a 4 inch circle at 100 yards)
- Failure to successfully pass or agree to any of the listed requirements will eliminate an individual from further participation as a volunteer.
SEE ALSO: Germany Sees 25% Increase in Hunting Participation Driven By Hunters Seeking Ethically Sourced Food
Skilled Volunteers can bring Support Volunteers to help with the hunt and meat processing.
The hunt will take place in four “lethal removal operations” beginning in September of 2021: Sept 20-24, Sept 27-Oct1, Oct 18-22, Oct 25-29.
Volunteers cannot choose the dates on which they wish to participate and should expect to put in a full week of work (including training on the first day).
Meat and other bison parts will be distributed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department on the last day of each operation. Volunteer teams should not expect to receive more than one bison worth of meat. It’s unclear if volunteers will be allowed to keep the skull and hide.