National Park Service seeks public comment on initial environmental assessment for bison herd reduction at Grand Canyon

PHOENIX – The National Park Service (NPS) has made available for public review its Initial Bison Herd Reduction Environmental Assessment (EA), which evaluates management actions related to bison on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The public can view the EA on the NPS website and submit any comments through June 7.

Since the 1990s, the bison population on the Kaibab Plateau herd has grown significantly, impacting Grand Canyon National Park resources such as water, vegetation, soils and archaeological sites. While they are negatively affecting habitat at their current numbers, bison can provide exceptional value to the visitor experience, when managed at appropriate numbers and distribution.

The purpose of the actions evaluated in the EA are to (1) quickly reduce bison population density on the Kaibab Plateau through collaborative efforts and (2) protect Grand Canyon National Park resources and values from the impacts of a steadily growing bison population.

According to a NPS news release, the NPS would work together with cooperating agencies and partners through the preferred alternative to reduce the bison herd to fewer than 200 animals using lethal culling with skilled volunteers and non-lethal capture and removal.

A management action that is not included in the Park Service’s preferred alternative is reducing the bison herd through public hunting. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department have consistently advocated for a model that uses properly licensed hunters as a management tool and allows the hunter to keep the animal.

“Several of the proposed actions in the Park Service EA will cost taxpayers far more than lethal removal by citizen hunters who would pay for the opportunity to assist the NPS,” said Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Kurt Davis. “This will provide additional hunting opportunities consistent with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and help to properly manage the bison population. This approach just makes sense and supports efforts to alleviate park damage caused by bison, saves tax dollars, funds wildlife conservation and helps protect habitat for other wildlife.”

The NPS will host three in-person open house meetings and one web-based meeting during the comment period. All times are Arizona time (Mountain Standard Time – MST) unless otherwise indicated:

  • 6 p.m. – 8 pm. Tuesday, May 16 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 1175 W. Route 66 in Flagstaff.
  • 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Thursday, May 18 at the Ben Avery Activity Center, 4044 W. Black Canyon Blvd in Phoenix.
  • 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Mountain Time) (5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Arizona time) Tuesday, May 23 at the Holiday Inn Express and Hotel, 217 S. 100 East in Kanab, Utah.
  • 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 30 online. Registration for the web-based meeting and more information about the open houses can be found here.

Comments can be submitted either electronically or via U.S. Postal Service at Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Attn: Bison Management Plan EA, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023 or at one of the in-person public meetings listed above.

Comments must be received by June 7. Comments will not be accepted by fax, email or by any method other than those specified above. Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.

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