Travis Smola

Arizona to Allow Select Volunteers Chance to Hunt Bison for Free in Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona will allow a select few hunters to reduce the bison herd in Grand Canyon National Park starting next season.

A few random and lucky hunters will be allowed to harvest a bison from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park next season as part of a population control program in the park. The news was announced in a press release from the National Park Service after they entered into an agreement on the management of the animals with the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The hope is that the selected hunters will be able to start removing animals from the park in the fall of 2021.

The most surprising part of the news is that the selected hunters will be able to take a single animal with no fees for licenses or permits. Hunters simply must ensure they remove the carcass, head, hide and meat from the field.

"The Game and Fish Department will provide the volunteer with the necessary permit to possess and transport the carcass from Grand Canyon National Park," Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Kurt Davis said in a press release. "There will be no wanton waste of game meat, and no waste of tax dollars to contract for paid sharpshooters."

The number of animals to be harvested remains to be determined, but officials say the number will be determined year to year. Biologists have been closely monitoring the herd in recent years and want to get the number down under 200 animals to protect the park's water, vegetation and other resources. Authorities are currently monitoring the herd through collared animals. The worry is that the current population of 400-600 animals could explode to as much as 1,500 within the next 10 years if unchecked.

Officials captured and relocated 88 animals to other areas starting in 2019, but more still need to be removed. The press release states that volunteers will need to pass a background check and a firearms proficiency test in order to participate. These volunteers will first be determined through a random selection process.

For hunters looking to put a lot of meat in the freezer without spending a ton of money, this could be a viable option for a bison hunt. The press release requests interested hunters to be patient and not contact either the National Park Service or Game and Fish about volunteering. A separate announcement will be made when officials are ready to start fielding requests.

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