National Park Service wants volunteers to kill bison in the Grand Canyon

THE National Park Service is looking for volunteers to help kill hundreds bison in the Grand Canyon's National Park.

The NPS, along with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), are looking for people “skilled” in “bison removal,” according to a webpage post.

Applications from the public are open from 12am, local time, on May 3 and close at 11.59pm on May 4 with the job starting in September 2021.

The NPS wrote it was "concerned about increased impacts on park resources such as water, vegetation, soils, archaeological sites and values such as visitor experience and wilderness character" given the "current distribution, abundance, density and the expected growth of the bison herd on the North Rim."

"Reducing the herd size will protect the park ecosystem, resources and values," the agency said.

A total of 25 jobs are up for grabs, 12 of which will be chosen using a random lottery system.

Those selected will be contacted by the NPS by May 17.

Anyone wishing to apply must be a US citizen; 18 years of age or older with valid identification; be able to purchase and pass a background investigation; 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; provide equipment; be available for the entirety of one of the assigned lethal removal operational periods; and meet additional requirements listed on the NPS FAQ page and application.

Anyone who is already employed by the park service cannot volunteer.

The plan to reduce the bison herd to a more manageable size was taken in consultation with traditionally associated tribes and the public 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," it explained. "These animals will augment existing herds managed by these Tribes."

Tribes would have equal opportunity to participate in lethal culling under separate pacts.

"In addition, NPS and USGS biologists have placed GPS collars on 25 animals to help with population estimates, migration patterns and temporal location," it continued. "Grand Canyon will continue live capture and relocation operations in the fall of 2021."

Since the park began managing the herd in 2019, a total of 88 bison have been relocated, according to a Big Country report.

The NPS is looking to reduce the herd by about two-thirds, down from 600 to 200 bison, the Associated Press reported in October.

NPS would select the age and sex of those targeted, and the number of bison allowed to be shot per team which would depend on the number of skilled volunteers, each of whom would be able to keep one carcass, though not necessarily the one they shot.

Environmental and conservation groups have called for the use of non-lethal methods to remove the animals.

"Shooting animals accustomed to a non-threatening human presence — the park attracts nearly 6 million visitors a year – is a betrayal," the Humane Society of the US wrote in a 2017 blog post. "The charges against the bison are trumped-up and best characterized as fake ecological news."

"I’m very nervous about there being a perpetual dependency on this use of people having to go into the park and shoot," the Sierra Club's Alicyn Gitlin told the Associated Press.

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