Arizona Game and Fish support listing bison as native wildlife

Grand Canyon report calls for proper management of bison to protect park habitat and resources

A report by Grand Canyon National Park lists bison as native wildlife. Photo/courtesy of AZGFD

A report by Grand Canyon National Park lists bison as native wildlife. Photo/courtesy of AZGFD

PHOENIX - The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) supports the findings of a National Park Service report that considers a herd of 600 bison on the Grand Canyon National Park as native wildlife.

The report involved a collaborative review of National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and AZGFD laws and policies to help guide Grand Canyon park officials in future bison management planning.

Game and Fish said a key finding of the report, which was scientifically reviewed, is that the bison living in northern Arizona are native wildlife within the long-term continental home range of the American bison.

"The Department is pleased with the conclusions in the report," said Craig McMullen, supervisor for the department's regional office in Flagstaff. "The bison are a valuable native component of the experience for visitors to the Kaibab Plateau, but there are too many right now. The ultimate goal is to manage this important bison population at appropriate levels for the enjoyment, appreciation and use by the public."

The report also concluded that:

• Existing law and policies allow Grand Canyon National Park officials to include the presence of bison in long term management plans.

• Public lands on the Grand Canyon's North Rim and the Kaibab National Forest are suitable for cooperative bison management with agencies such as AZGFD.

• The bison population must be reduced by several hundred animals to mitigate the ongoing damage to habitat, as well as to cultural and archaeological sites within the Grand Canyon.

The report comes as Congressional lawmakers consider a pair of bi-partisan bills that direct the U.S. Department of Interior and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to coordinate on a plan that allows the state's sportsmen with valid, state-issued hunting licenses to assist in managing the bison population.

The bills are supported by the Commission and were introduced in the U.S. Senate by Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake; and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar. The House bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert and Trent Franks

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