National Parks Service Enlists Sharpshooters To Cull Bison Herds

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

The National Parks Service (NPS) is looking for adept and fit hunters to help cull bison herds around the Grand Canyon that are destroying the environment, according to the Associated Press.

NPS approved a bison reduction plan in September that would allow herds to be managed through hunting or rounding up hundreds of the animals.

About 600 bison roam through the area now, but that number could grow to 1,500 within the next 10 years if the herds are allowed to grow unchecked. The NPS wants to limit the number of bison in the area to 200 in the next three to five years by hunting or capturing the beasts, the AP reports.

Bison population control has grown more and more difficult over years of adaptation by the bison. Herds have discovered that they can drift between the Grand Canyon National Park and the north Kaibab National Forest, where neither area allows hunting, and stay relatively safe, the Arizona Daily Miner reports.

The NPS is recruiting help from licensed hunters, inviting them to buy into a lottery system for bison tags. The lucky winners will work with an NPS employee to shoot a bison with non-lead ammunition in order to protect other wildlife, according to the AP.

Kurt Davis, a commissioner on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, says working with hunters to kill the bison is the best method for keeping the population in check, according to the Daily Miner.

“This approach just makes sense and supports efforts to alleviate damage caused by bison, saves tax dollars, funds wildlife conservation, and helps protect habitat for other wildlife,” Davis said.

While NPS has approved the bison reduction plan and methods, certain details haven’t been finalized yet, such as the compensation for volunteer hunters, the AP reports.

The head and hide of the killed bison will be presented to the local American Indian tribes. One idea under consideration, though, allows the volunteer sharpshooters to each get meat equal to one bison, a significant amount as the average bison weighs several hundred pounds.

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

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