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Grand Canyon Bison

The National Park Service is looking for hunters to cull its bison herds


Are you a pretty good hunter? Well, the National Park Service (NPS) needs your help.

The National Park Service announced it's planning to reduce the size of a bison herd on the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park through roundups and by seeking volunteers who are good with a gun.

Biologists with the National Park Service estimate that the herd has grown from approximately 100 bison in the 1900s to between 400 and 600 bison. Experts predict that the herd could be as large as 1,500 animals within the next 10 years if left uncontrolled.

"Given the current distribution, abundance, density, and the expected growth of this herd, the NPS is concerned about increased impacts on park resources such as water, vegetation, soils, archaeological sites, and values such as visitor experience and wilderness character," NPS explained on its website. "Reducing the herd size will protect park resources and values."

Volunteer shooters would be selected through a lottery system to help bring the number of bison roaming the park to no more than 200 within three to five years.

Grand Canyon National Park is still working out the details of the volunteer effort, but is leaning on the established practices of national parks in Colorado, the Dakotas and Wyoming that have used shooters to reduce their elk populations.

Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club says she's hopeful Grand Canyon will focus mostly on non-lethal removal.

The National Park Service's reduction plan would allow volunteers working in a team with a Park Service employee to shoot bison using non-lead ammunition. Hunters can't harvest more than one bison in their lifetime through the state hunt, which is something many say makes the volunteer effort intriguing.

Grand Canyon National Park is working with state wildlife officials and the Intertribal Buffalo Council to craft guidelines for roundups and volunteer shooters, Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson explained.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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