SOUTHERN UTAH (ABC4) – According to Grand Canyon national officials, the decision to thin out the Kaibab Plateau bison herd comes after a 2017 environmental assessment.
“The bison often trample vegetation and really disrupt the soils, they walk on archaeological sites, and they also have an impact on the water quality as well,” says Kaitlyn Thomas, a spokesperson for Grand Canyon National Park.
“They wallow around in the water and it creates a real e-coli problem, because that water table feeds directly into roaring springs and that’s the water source for people living, working, and also recreating in the North Rim,” says Thomas.
Officials plan to reduce the herd by nearly half of their current population in the park over the next five years.
“If we did not reduce the population, it could grow to 1,000 in the next 10 years,” says Thomas.
In 2019, the park teamed up with the Intertribal Buffalo Council to transfer bison back north. But this time around, they are partnering with Arizona Game and Fish. They will use a lottery system to pick people to hunt bison at the park.
“We make this choice for the health of the ecosystem and the Secretary of the Interior does maintain the discretion to provide for the destruction of animals so long as it has a benefit to the park,” says Thomas.
For more information on the the Bison Reduction, click here.
The portal for the application will be live here May 3.