Groups rush to the ship, not to shoot, Grand Canyon bison
Posted on 9/24/2021 at 1:06 pm
A planned bison hunt in the Grand Canyon’s North Rim this week appears to be moving forward despite recent requests from Colorado lawmakers to move the animals there instead.
The hunt, which has been in the works for months, is just one way the National Park Service hopes to reduce the herd size from the current roughly 600 bison to 200 by 2025, a number that wildlife officials say they are in Park could live without causing environmental damage.
More than 45,000 people have applied to be one of the 12 snipers selected for the hunt, a pilot program that allows hunting inside the park for the first time.
Environmentalists agree there are too many bison for the park’s health, but they question the worth of killing only 12. Instead, Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis said the animals should be brought to his state, where they can “live and roam” for free with the Southern Plains Land Trust in Bent County. “
“I urge the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to look into this practical situation in Colorado,” Polis said in a statement Tuesday.
His testimony followed a letter to Home Secretary Deb Haaland last week from Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., And four other members of the House of Representatives calling on the department to “use non-lethal methods of managing bison populations, such as capture , a vaccine for fertility control, etc. “
Calls to federal and state officials overseeing the hunt were not returned on Wednesday. But in previous herd management plan documents, the National Park Service rejected birth control of bison, citing the need to reduce the herd quickly.
“Fertility control can take a long time and requires expensive, frequently repeated applications to achieve significant population reductions,” the service said, adding that other methods, including “fatal removal,” will affect the herd for the next several years desired size.
But critics of the fatal removal plan, who said Wednesday they had received no evidence of delaying the hunt, said the pilot program was not only wrong, but the wrong way for valet parking to achieve its destination.
“The idea that killing 12 of them (bison) will cut you nearly to 200 is ridiculous,” said Joe Trudeau, a conservation advocate in the southwest of the Center for Biodiversity. He said the center “absolutely supports Governor Polis’ request – it’s human, it’s logical, and it’s realistic.”
The hunt is part of an agreement reached last year between the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Park Service to reduce the herd of bison on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Without management, officials estimate that the herd could grow from around 600 animals today to 1,500 in 10 years.
In addition to fatal removal, the plan includes harassing bison in the park and catching bison alive, which can then be transferred to Indian tribes for management. As of this month, a total of 124 bison have been removed from the park in the past two years and given to six tribes in four states that are part of the InterTribal Buffalo Council.
But the hunt has drawn most of the attention. From the more than 45,000 applications received, Arizona Game and Fish was ultimately asked to select 12 “qualified volunteers” for the fatal removal of 12 bison.
Applicants were required to pass a shooting test in which three out of five bullets were shot from 100 yards into a 4-inch target. Among other things, they needed to have a support team, ready to dress and retrieve their prey, provide their own camping and hunting equipment, and complete a range of safety and training programs, among other things.
According to Game and Fish documents, selected hunters are “allowed to take up to a single bison, including head, fur and meat, to remove the carcass from Grand Canyon National Park.”
Trudeau admits that the herd in the park, sheltered from the hunt, “has grown dramatically, with a significant impact on the environment … some rather sensitive environments”. However, he fears that this first hunt, which is billed as a pilot project, will be ramped up and the hunt expanded in the future.
“It would be the first time hunting is allowed inside the national park,” he said. “There is bison hunting in the neighboring National Forests, but allowing it to do so in the park is really new territory, which is a really bad precedent for how we manage our national parks.”
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