The NPS Is Seeking Skilled Volunteers to Help Cull Bison in Grand Canyon National Park

NPS and Arizona Game and Fish are calling on hunters to apply for a historic bison cull in the Grand Canyon this fall

Hunters will have the opportunity to participate in the first-ever controlled bison cull in Grand Canyon National Park this fall.

The herd of 300 to 500 North Rim bison are descendants of 86 bison rancher Charles “Buffalo” Jones brought to the area more than a 100 years ago. As the free-ranging bison herd has grown over the last century, they have begun to damage water sources, stampede vegetation, and invade archeological sites.

The National Park Service determined in 2017 that it needed to reduce the number of buffalo in Grand Canyon National Park by 200 animals. The first method used was the live transfer of bison to different locations throughout the U.S. So far, 88 bison have been relocated to five different Native American tribes through a partnership with the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council.

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The second method is to cull the number of bison, which the NPS and Arizona Game and Fish agreed was a necessity in Sept. 2020. The cull will take place over five weeks, starting Sept. 20 and ending Oct. 29. You’ll notice the NPS isn’t calling this a “hunt.” There are strict requirements for all participants beyond normal regulated hunts, and there is no license or tag fee, either—just a $65 fee for the criminal background check.

There will be a 24-hour window to apply for the cull, starting at 12 a.m. (MST) May 3 and ending at 11:59 p.m. May 4. There will be 25 volunteers selected from the pool of applicants, from which 12 volunteers will be drawn at random to participate in the cull. Each hunter will be allowed to kill one bison, and can take the head, hide, and meat. Selected hunters must be able to pack out the animal on their own.

Volunteers must meet the following criteria, and additional requirements, in order to be considered for the limited number of spots:

  • Be U.S. citizens 18 years of age or older with valid photo ID.
  • Have the ability to purchase and pass a background investigation and have no criminal or wildlife violations.
  • Self-certify a high level of physical fitness ability.
  • Have a firearm safety certification and pass a marksmanship proficiency test (3 of 5 shots in a 4-inch circle at 100 yards).
  • Provide their own equipment, firearm, lodging, food and field dressing supplies. 
  • Be available for the entirety of one of the assigned lethal removal operational periods. Individuals may not participate in more than one: Sept. 20-24, 2021; Sept. 27-Oct 1, 2021; Oct. 18-22, 2021; Oct. 25-29, 2021.

You can find more information about the bison cull here.