Just over 45,000 people have entered a lottery to allow them to hunt and kill bison roaming near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Only 12 people will be selected by the National Park Service (NPS). The plan that was approved in 2017 seeks to cull the herd from 600 bison to 200.
The NPS put out a nationwide call for applications last week, saying the bison must be killed because they are using too many natural resources near the canyon’s North Rim, where officials say the bison have been trampling on archaeological and other resources, and spoiling water.
The odds aren’t as good as drawing a state tag to hunt the massive animals beyond the boundaries of the Grand Canyon, but it is a unique opportunity for the avid hunter.
The potential volunteers had 48 hours, which ended on midnight Tuesday, to apply. Of the applicants, about 15% were Arizona residents, about 33% from Texas, California, California, Colorado, and Utah according to Larry Phoenix, a regional supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. More than likely each state has at least one entry.
The Department will select 25 names through a lottery, vet them and forward finalists to the park service. The first 12 who to submit a packet of information requested by the park service will be part of the volunteer program in the fall, Grand Canyon spokeswoman Kaitlyn Thomas said Wednesday. Selected volunteers will be notified on May 17.
The hunt will be work as it has to be done on foot at elevations of 8,000 feet or higher at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Motorized transportation or stock animals or prohibited to retrieve the bison, which can weight up to 2,000 pounds, and they will have to field dress them with help from a support crew. Since it will be held in the fall snow could also be a factor.
Park officials are clear that it’s not a hunt because it doesn’t involve fair chase. Hunting is prohibited within national parks, but the agency has authority to kill animals that harm resources, using park staff or volunteers.
Matt Mallery, an archaeologist in Flagstaff who applied, said using volunteers is cost-effective, logical and provides an opportunity to harvest organic meat that can be cost-prohibitive through the state hunt. Removing bison also helps keep theecosystem in check, he said.
Killing bison won’t decrease the herd by much. Each volunteer can take one animal out of the 300-500 estimated to be roaming the far northern reaches of Arizona. The goal population is 200.