Apparently a Lot of People Want to Hunt Bison in the Grand Canyon
The hunting will begin this fall
Near the end of the 19th century, the fate of bison in America looked bleak. What had been an iconic species found across huge stretches of the country had dwindled to the brink of extinction due to overzealous hunters. (For a harrowing fictional take on this moment in history, John Williams’s novel Butcher’s Crossing is highly recommended.) Over the last century, though, the bison population has rebounded dramatically. That’s the good news. The bad news? It turns out that too many bison can make an unwelcome impact on certain ecosystems.
One of those ecosystems is in Grand Canyon National Park. A new article by Azi Paybarah at The New York Times explains the problem the park faces — and the measures being used to address them.
A herd of around 500 bison now live in the northern reaches of the park, Paybarah writes; officials would prefer that number be around 200. To that end, they’ve established a lottery for the chance to hunt 12 of the bison. Each permit holder will be permitted to kill one apiece. And the response for it has been substantial, with 45,000 people applying.
These hunts will be part of a larger effort. “The rest of the herd reduction is expected to be achieved by capturing and relocating live bison and through state-run hunts that take place outside the park,” writes Paybarah.
Complicating matters for the applicants: the region where the hunt will take place is designated wilderness — so vehicles and stock animals are not allowed inside. If you’re going to be hunting there, you’re going to need to be fit enough to carry the bison remains out of the park — a challenging task over and above the challenges of the hunt. This fall, those hunts will begin, opening another chapter in the history of bison in America.
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