PHOENIX - A solution to a rapidly growing bison herd on Grand Canyon's North Rim was reached after a bill was approved that could allow hunters to obtain state hunting licenses to hunt the bison within park boundaries.
The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill allowing the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) to better manage and conserve the bison population within the park Oct. 8.
The Committee passed the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act, attaching it as an amendment to the larger Sportsman's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act. The Grand
Canyon Bison Management Act requires the U.S. Department of Interior and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to coordinate on a plan that allows sportsmen holding a valid state-issued hunting license to assist in management of the bison population within the park.
"Yesterday the House Natural Resources Committee threw their support behind protecting the Grand Canyon National Park, wildlife conservation and supporting our dedicated sportsmen and women," said Kurt Davis, chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. "The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department thank U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar for leading this commonsense legislation in the U.S. House, with the support of our Arizona Congressional delegation. We also look forward to continuing to work closely with U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake in the Senate."
The bi-partisan bill is a step closer to being considered by the full U.S. House of Representatives. McCain and Flake have introduced identical legislation in the Senate.
"The bison population is exploding and this issue needs to be resolved now," Gosar said. "The bi-partisan, bicameral effort passed with unanimous consent by the committee will protect Arizona's greatest treasure, the Grand Canyon, from this species in a responsible manner. This legislative solution is a victory for sportsmen, conservationists and taxpayers who will provide a timely resolution to the bison problem plaguing the Grand Canyon National Park."
The Grand Canyon Bison Management Act aims to address an over-abundance of bison whose movement in and near the canyon's North Rim have impacted natural and cultural resources within the park.
Wildlife surveys estimate around 600 bison have migrated into the park, where hunting is prohibited. The park has since become a safe haven for the bison population, which has led to overgrazing and damage to the Grand Canyon's natural resources.
The House bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert and Trent Franks.