Have you ever wanted to hunt bison? More specifically, have you ever wanted to hunt bison smack dab in the Grand Canyon? If so, here’s a golden opportunity for you.
You see, it seems that the massive animals have been damaging vegetation and causing problems in the national park for a while now. That means something has to be done to reduce their numbers. While National Parks Service personnel are working to relocate some of the animals, there’s only so much that can be done on that front.
That means some of the rest need to be hunted.
About 600 of the animals now live in the region, and biologists say the bison numbers could hit 1,500 within 10 years if left uncontrolled.
The Grand Canyon is still working out details of the volunteer effort, but it’s taking cues from national parks in Colorado, the Dakotas and Wyoming that have used shooters to cut overabundant or diseased populations of elk. The Park Service gave final approval to the bison reduction plan this month.
The bison have been moving in recent years within the Grand Canyon boundaries where open hunting is prohibited. Park officials say they’re trampling on vegetation and spoiling water resources. The reduction plan would allow volunteers working in a team with a Park Service employee to shoot bison using non-lead ammunition to protect endangered California condors that feed on gut piles.
Hunters cannot harvest more than one bison in their lifetime through the state hunt, making the volunteer effort intriguing, they say.
“I would go if I had a chance to retain a portion of the meat,” said Travis McClendon, a hunter in Cottonwood. “It definitely would be worth going, especially with a group.”
Grand Canyon is working with state wildlife officials and the Intertribal Buffalo Council to craft guidelines for roundups and volunteer shooters, who would search for bison in the open, said Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson.
There are still a lot of details to work out, including just what will happen with the kills. It appears the current plan involves the head and hide of the animal going to the tribes in the area while details on the meat are still up for discussion. One plan appears to involve dividing up the meat between all the volunteers until all have the equivalent to a full animal.
Apparently, keeping your own kill isn’t something worth considering. That particular plan sounds an awful lot like, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”
Still, if everyone knows going in they will only get to bring home one animal worth, but will still get the joy of hunting regardless, I suspect some sportsmen and women will still be down with it. The thrill of the adventure alone would make it worth the trip.
For the record, bison meat is a favorite of mine, so I fully plan on putting my name in as a potential volunteer, but if you’re a fan of bison meat or hunting animals you might not get a lot of chance to hunt, you may want to throw your name into the hopper for potential selection in the lottery. However, if you do, you may want to start hitting the gym. It appears this will be a strenuous hunt with no vehicle support.
Still totally worth it, if you ask me.