Grand Canyon Bison Wreaking HavocBy: Heather Vecchioni - April 2, 2014
How do you manage a herd of about 400 bison? That’s what the National Park Service is trying to figure out.
This massive gang of beefalo – a hybrid of cattle and buffalo – is taking over the northern reaches of the Grand Canyon. The concern is that they are causing destruction and unsanitary conditions.
Along with trampling vegetation and grazing on pristine meadows, the bison have actually caused some serious damage and major causes for concern. The animals defecate in lakes polluting water sources, have trampled into Mexican spotted owl territory, have turned lush meadows into nubs, and even knocked over walls at American Indian cliff dwellings below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Federal and state officials have announced three public meetings in which residents of the area are invited to share their ideas on how to manage the huge animals. The meetings are scheduled for April 28 in Kanab, April 29 in Flagstaff, and April 30 in Phoenix. Online meetings are also set to take place.
What you could expect to see at the Grand Canyon:
The population of the hybrids has dramatically increased because they moved to an area in which hunting is illegal. The Arizona Game and Fish department was able to keep the pack down to about 100. With the herd moving over to the Grand Canyon, however, things changed because hunting is prohibited at the national park. Now the group has more than tripled.
Officials at Yellowstone National Park are also revisiting the current bison management plan. Although herds have inhabited the area since prehistoric times, there is concern about disease transmission from the bison to Montana livestock.
Expected proposed methods to manage the livestock include baiting, hazing, fencing, relocating the bison, and shooting them. Officials state that birth control has not proved to be an effective method in the past.
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