Bison on Grand Canyon National Park


What is going on:
Following our May 15, 2017 Action Alert, please take the time to read what is going on with the National Park Service (NPS) regarding our Arizona bison in the Grand Canyon National Park (Grand Canyon).  They have proposed an Environmental Assessment (EA) on what they want to do with the bison that have migrated on to Park land.  If  the NPS can get funding…Arizona’s bison will be culled, captured, corralled and conveyed right out of the Park.

The NPS’s handout from the recent public meetings was entitled “Initial Bison Herd Reduction Environmental Assessment – FAQ’s Grand Canyon National Park”.  To read the document, click here. 

The NPS Plan:
The NPS has assessed and evaluated this issue ad nauseam.  After several years, two Park superintendents, lots of meetings, input and now more input, they are now proposing two options to consider, with a “suite of management tools”.   Those two options are:

  • Alternative 1…do nothing, status quo, buffalo expand, habitat destroyed.
  • Alternative 2…cull them with teams of “skilled” volunteers & Tribal members, haze them, round them up, corral & capture them and give them away to “willing recipients, such as tribes, the state of Arizona, other federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations.”

Our View:
Alternative 1 is not an option, and candidly neither is Alternative 2.  After several years of negotiation, it’s closer than where we were, but alas, no cigar.  We need to advocate for a third option.  This would be a common sense, bureaucracy reducing, taxpayer savings, financially prudent solution to too many bison and too much habitat degradation on the Grand Canyon. 

Let’s call it Alternative #3, or maybe the “Grand Canyon Bison Management Reduction Program”. (For a Wyoming parallel, click here)

Suggested Alternative  3, “Grand Canyon Bison Management Reduction Program”:

  • These bison aka buffalo were initially purchased by the state of Arizona, are owned by the state of Arizona, and have been managed by the Arizona Game & Fish Department (Department).  This should continue in concert with the NPS.
  • The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation should govern the management of these state owned animals.
  • Management options would be set forth into a timetable to reduce the bison on the Park to 200 animals in 3 to 5 years.
  • The Department should manage public hunting opportunities available for all citizens.
  • Citizen hunting would invoke the highest level of ethics coupled with the proper treatment and handling of the carcass as a standard, with the meat, head and cape going to the successful hunter.
  • Taxpayer dollars should not be used to “cull”, butcher and process bison that are shot on the park…let citizen hunters pay for the privilege!
  • Planning, capture and translocation of these bison owned by the state of Arizona should be carried out jointly with the Department and the NPS, with disposal options going first to the Department.
  • We are continually told hunting is not allowed on National Park land, which is not true.  Elk hunting is allowed on the Grand Teton National Park (Grand Teton) coordinated with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. 
  • Hunting is allowed on 51,097,000 acres of NPS administered lands, 60% of the total!
  • Park issues unique to Grand Canyon should be treated in a similar fashion as those that arose with Grand Teton and consider their model as a guideline:

Comment to NPS:
Input to the NPS is due no later than June 14th.  To send in your comment electronically, click on this link beginning June 5th 

Comments can also be submitted through USPS at:
Grand Canyon National Park
PO Box 129
Attn: Bison Management Plan EA
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Contact Congress:
The Arizona Game & Fish Commission has been lobbying Congress to get the “Grand Canyon Bison Management Act” off the shelf.  We need to tell our Senators and Representatives the same thing.  Absent Congressional action, the NPS is going to continue to tell us there is no “hunting” authorized in or on Grand Canyon, hence the importance of this bill! 

Consequently we, and you need to write or call Senator McCain, Senator Flake and District 1 Congressman O’Halloran (the bison are in his District). If you don’t live in District 1, click here to locate your Congressman/woman and contact them as well.