May 10 2017
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) today applauded the National Park Service (NPS) for including a proposal in its newly completed Environmental Assessment on an Initial Bison Herd Reduction at Grand Canyon National Park to reduce the overpopulated bison herd by allowing lethal culling with skilled volunteer hunters.
Over 600 bison roam inside Grand Canyon National Park and the adjoining Kaibab National Forest as part of a failed cattle/buffalo cross-breeding experiment dating back to the early 1900s. Without any natural predators, the bison population is projected to grow to nearly 800 bison in the next three years and as many as 1,200 to 1,500 bison within 10 years if management actions are not taken. In addition to trampling native vegetation, natural springs, and sensitive grasslands, these animals also continue to pose a threat to the visitors’ public safety.
“I am encouraged that the National Park Service is moving forward with plans to cull the growing bison herd at Grand Canyon National Park,” said Senator McCain. “An estimated 600 bison roam inside and near the park’s boundaries, and are trampling and devouring the pristine lands that make the park a national treasure for millions of visitors. I have long believed that enlisting the help of state-licensed volunteer hunters would be a commonsense way to solve the Grand Canyon’s bison problem. The announcement today that park officials are incorporating hunters into its bison management plan is a laudable step forward and urgently needed.”
“The National Park Service’s announcement is another step in the right direction in addressing the Grand Canyon’s unmanageable bison herd that continue to damage resources within the park,” said Senator Flake. “I am pleased that the Park Service is taking into account our commonsense proposal that will allow volunteers to cull bison at no cost, instead of depending on hired contractors.”
During the 114th Congress, Senators McCain and Flake introduced the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act, legislation that would direct NPS to complete work on a bison management plan and allow state licensed hunters to assist the park in culling the bison population and take home the full animal carcass. The bill was passed by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, but never received a vote by the full Senate. Both Senators have called upon NPS to utilize hunters as part of a larger strategy to humanely remove bison from the park.