Grand Canyon National Park Seeks Volunteers for Bison Reduction

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posted on April 28, 2021
bison-in-snow.jpg

The National Park Service, in cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), seeks skilled volunteers to assist with the removal of bison on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in the fall of 2021. Interested parties should carefully read this announcement and the information in the links below.

Given the current distribution, abundance, density and the expected growth of the bison herd on the North Rim, 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. Reducing the herd size will protect the park ecosystem, resources and values.

Individuals who are interested in applying to be volunteers can submit an application on the following website (azbisonstewards.com) beginning at 12 a.m. (Arizona time) on May 3 through 11:59 p.m. on May 4, 2021. Volunteers must:

  • Be U.S. citizens 18 years of age or older with valid photo ID
  • Have the ability to purchase and pass a background investigation and have no criminal or wildlife violations
  • Self-certify a high level of physical fitness ability
  • Have a firearm safety certification and pass a marksmanship proficiency test (3 of 5 shots in a 4-inch circle at 100 yards)
  • Provide their own equipment, firearm, lodging, food and field dressing supplies. See firearm FAQs.
  • Be available for the entirety of one of the assigned lethal removal operational periods. Individuals may not participate in more than one: Sept. 20-24, 2021; Sept. 27-Oct 1, 2021; Oct. 18-22, 2021; Oct. 25-29, 2021
  • Meet all additional requirements listed on the NPS FAQ page and on the application (the application will be available at www.azbisonstewards.com when the application period opens).


Only 25 applicants will be selected to form the pool from which 12 qualified individuals will be chosen to become a skilled volunteer. The volunteer pool will be selected using a random lottery system and selected individuals will be contacted by the NPS by May 17, 2021. At the end of the week, volunteers may be given up to one bison in exchange for removal by AZGFD. Employees of the National Park Service or other Department of the Interior agencies, as well as employees of the Arizona Game and Fish Department or members of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, are not eligible to apply.

Future volunteer removal operations will be announced on a later date and will require a separate volunteer application. Please note, this is not an AZGFD permit hunt or draw application, and applying or being selected for this skilled volunteer opportunity will not affect bonus points, count toward lifetime species limits, or invalidate any big game tag or application an individual may have with AZGFD.

There will not be an opportunity to correct applications once submitted. Detailed information is available on the NPS FAQ page and will also be on the application page at azbisonstewards.com once the application period opens. Any questions should be emailed to [email protected].

This effort to reduce bison to a more manageable herd size is supported via consultation with the public and traditionally associated Tribes as well as in the 2017 Environmental Assessment conducted by NPS, the State of Arizona and the US Forest Service.

In addition to removal, Grand Canyon National Park biologists began piloting live capture and relocation in 2019. Since the program began, 88 animals have been captured and relocated to five American Indian Tribes through an agreement with the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council. These animals will augment existing herds managed by these Tribes. In addition, NPS and USGS biologists have placed GPS collars on 25 animals to help with population estimates, migration patterns and temporal locations. Grand Canyon will continue live capture and relocation operations in the fall of 2021.

For more information regarding bison impacts and monitoring, please visit: nps.gov/articles/bison-impacts-and-monitoring.html.

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