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Legislation introduced to manage Grand Canyon bison population

Staff~ 3/25/2015

PHOENIX – U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, together with U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, introduced the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act on March 18. This legislation would allow the use of wildlife management and conservation techniques on the bison population within Grand Canyon National Park.

Specifically, the act would require both the U.S. Department of Interior and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to coordinate on producing a plan that allows sportsmen holding a valid state-issued hunting license to manage the bison population within the park through culling and other nonlethal means. The volunteers would then be allowed to remove the full bison harvested from the park.

"The introduction of this bill is a positive step toward ensuring the bison population remains in proper balance to allow for the recovery of natural habitat within the Grand Canyon National Park," said Game and Fish Commission Chairman Robert Mansell. "We thank and look forward to partnering with our Arizona Congressional Delegation in support of this commonsense bill that benefits the Grand Canyon, the State of Arizona, our wildlife conservation efforts, and local businesses."

Over the past few decades, the bison abundance, distribution, and unfettered reproduction, and movement in and near the Grand Canyon's North Rim, have impacted both natural and cultural resources within the Park.

Wildlife surveys estimate that about 600 bison have migrated into the Grand Canyon National Park, where hunting is prohibited. According to McCain, the park has now become a safe haven for the exploding bison population, which has led to overgrazing and damage to the Grand Canyon’s natural resources.

The bills (S. 782 and H.R. 1443) were co-sponsored in the U.S. House by Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, and Trent Franks.