More than 40 bison were removed this fall from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, where the size of the resident herd has grown uncontrollably.
A total of 36 bison were removed by live capture and transfer and five were fatally removed, reducing the herd’s impacts on water, vegetation, soils and culturally important sites and locations, a statement said on Wednesday. of the park.
In 2021, through a partnership with the InterTribal Buffalo Council, 13 bison were transferred to the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska and 23 to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Since the park began transferring bison to tribal partners in 2019, 124 bison have been relocated to six tribes in four states through the ITBC.
Even with the success of the live animal capture and transfer program, lethal elimination remained a necessary tool to disperse and move the herd in order to protect the park’s sensitive resources. Through a partnership with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, this year a total of five bison were slaughtered in the Kaibab Plateau herd by highly trained volunteers.
Bison meat and culturally significant parts of bison were donated to three federally recognized tribes traditionally associated with the Grand Canyon. While planning for additional reduction operations is underway, park staff are developing an agreement with the 11 traditionally associated tribes to conduct joint lethal elimination operations in the future.
The 2021 lethal elimination program, using trained volunteers, ended in late October and achieved the important goal of making the park less of a refuge for bison, encouraging them to move more widely across the landscape.
“I am extremely proud of this team who have worked tirelessly on this complex and important resource management challenge,” said Grand Canyon Superintendent Ed Keable. “Their commitment will have lasting impacts on the natural and cultural resources of the north shore in the future. “
In 2014, the NPS initiated a science planning process to manage the overpopulation of bison in Grand Canyon National Park. In 2017, using the best available science and working closely with the public and Native American tribes, the park finalized the initial bison herd reduction plan to reduce the herd from 600 to less than 200 bison using live capture and transfer, as well as limited lethal action. deletion. The 2020-2021 winter population estimate for the herd is around 400 animals.