The American Buffalo Is Not Native To Arizona

Winter Buffalo
North Rim Buffalo Road Crossing
North Rim Buffalo Road Crossing

The American Bison or buffalo are not native to Arizona. In 1906, Charles Jesse Jones, aka “Buffalo Jones”, drove a small herd of buffalo from Utah to northern Arizona to what is now known as Bright Angel Point which is within the Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim, in an attempt to crossbreed them with cattle. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve in 1906. The game preserve which includes 612,736 acres of the Kaibab National Forest, is “set aside for the protection of game animals and birds,” and is “to be recognized as a breeding place therefore.”  Congress designated the Grand Canyon Game Preserve in 1906 and the Congressional Report (Protection of Wild Animals in the Grand Canyon Forest Preserve) described the area as “ideal for buffalo, deer and other wild game.”

Herding the Buffalo
Herding the Buffalo

The National Park Service, governing the Grand Canyon National Park, several years ago has come to the conclusion that the current population of buffalo then of approximately 400 animals which now has multiplied into 500-600 head has to be reduced to minimize damage to the park’s habitat, water holes and source, fences meadows and riparian areas. During the process, the NPS has had to engage on compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA’s and Environmental Impact Study EIS’ to satisfy federal governing regulations.  Meanwhile, the buffalo population continued to increase as well as the damage within the park.

The Wildlife area has never been completely enclosed by fencing.  The northern fence has been maintained as required by the MOU, but gets very little pressure from bison.  Some sections of fence were built between substantial terrain features on the eastern monocline, but due to concerns with mule deer migration, effects of high seasonal water flows and lack of adequate maintenance funds, all fencing efforts were discontinued.


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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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