Bison Reduction Program on the Grand Canyon North Rim finished for the year

By Greg Hahne
Published: Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 11:56am

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Jack Dykinga/U.S. Department of Agriculture
An American bison stands on Western rangeland.

The bison reduction program on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is over this year.

Forty-one bison were removed from the area — 36 were captured and relocated and five were removed lethally. 

Those that were moved were split between the Santee Sioux Nation in Nebraska and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Grand Canyon National Park spokesperson Joelle Baird says the National Park Service partnered with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to get highly skilled volunteers to kill some of the bison. The process requires volunteers to have extensive weapon training and to be physically fit enough to remove the carcass of a bison without help from a vehicle. 

In 2017, the National Park service started the program to reduce the size of the herd from 600 to 200 by 2025.

The bison in the Kaibab Plateau Herd cause damage to the environment and to cultural sites in the area. Baird says the bison aren’t native to the area. 

“At one time it was on the very edge of the bison range throughout North America. However in recent history bison have not adapted to the landscape and the resources as well have not adapted to bison being on the North Rim," Baird said.

They were introduced to the North Rim in the early 1900s.

In a press release, the National Park Service said the goal is being met as the current number of bison remains to be between 400. 

Baird added they are still looking to see if lethal removal will be necessary next year. 

Baird added that wolves and mountain lions were removed from the Grand Canyon in the 1930s due to wildlife management.