The odds are set for a shot at a hunting experience very few will ever have. The Grand Canyon bison hunt lottery has begun.
The National Parks Service has offered a bison hunt in the Grand Canyon for the first time, and the opportunity saw 45,000 interested skilled volunteers apply for one of 12 spots on the exclusive list.
Not technically a "hunt," the controlled cull will allow hunters one bison in the fall of 2021 but not require a traditional hunting license or tag fee. The chance came about thanks to a 2020 agreement between the NPS and Arizona Game and Fish to manage the overabundant herd in the Grand Canyon's North Rim.
Volunteers had a 48-hour window in early May to apply, and needed to meet a long list of criteria before consideration. The 45,000 will be whittled down to 25 in a lottery, from which the eventual 12 will be chosen.
Here are the requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older
- Pay for and pass a background check and have no criminal or wildlife violations
- Self-certify a high level of physical fitness
- Have firearm safety certification and pass marksmanship proficiency test
- Provide their own equipment, firearm, lodging, food, and field dressing supplies
- Be available for one of the assigned lethal removal periods for the full five days: Sept. 20-24, 2021; Sept. 27-Oct 1, 2021; Oct. 18-22, 2021; Oct. 25-29, 2021
The hunt isn't your average walk in the back 40, instead requiring some serious physical capabilities. Altitudes in the North Rim can reach 8,000 feet, and volunteers can't use motorized transportation or stock animals to retrieve the bison. That means the continent's largest land mammals, which can reach some 2,000 pounds, will need to be field dressed and removed within the individuals' (and maybe a couple friends') own abilities.
Only centerfire rifles in at least a .30 caliber and bottlenecked cartridges will be allowed, and non-lead ammo that's at least 165 grains is required. Volunteers will need to provide their own food and lodging for the week-long opportunity.
There are an estimated 300-500 bison in the particular North Rim herd that's in need of decreasing, and the main factors for their removal involve their damage of water supplies, destruction of agricultural areas, and encroachment onto archeological sites.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of bison in the area to under 200.