Monday, August 11, 2014

Grand Canyon rethinks destructive bison overpopulation

As Grand Canyon National Park's bison herd grows rapidly on the North Rim, the Park Service is on the hunt for strategies to deal with the destructive overpopulation. A new approach has the Arizona Game and Fish Department conducting an experiment by relocating 19 bison to House Rock Valley. The herd is currently kept in a 7-acre enclosure until department officials are confident they will remain in the area without attempting to return to the top of the Kaibab Plateau, 50 miles away. "It's our hope that this experiment will result in them re-establishing a home range at House Rock Wildlife Area. This is clearly an experiment, and the outcome of which will help inform the environmental impact statement process," regional supervisor at Game and Fish Craig McMullen said. Estimates from the Park Service and Game and Fish put the total number of bison in the area anywhere between 400 and just shy of 600. McMullen explained that any accurate census of the herd is nearly impossible because it is free-ranging. In addition to the main herd, there are four or five separate herds of several dozen bison roaming the area. "The main point here is, we know that there are more bison up there than their current home range can sustain," he said...more

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