GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — At the beginning of the month, National Park Service staff successfully relocated 57 bison from the North Rim.
According to a press release from the park service, the operation was conducted in cooperation with the InterTribal Buffalo Council, Kaibab National Forest, and Arizona Game and Fish Department.
All bison were transferred to the InterTribal Buffalo Council, who successfully transported them to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Kansas, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, Santee Sioux Tribe in Nebraska and Modoc Nation in Oklahoma.
Eleven additional bison were outfitted with tracking collars and released during the corralling process. The collaring was conducted in partnership with the U.S. Geological Service in order for park wildlife biologists to study bison migratory patterns and population size.
The goal of the 2020 Bison Reduction Program was to capture and relocate approximately 60-100 bison during a two-week corralling period from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8. A pilot program was conducted on the North Rim in September 2019 with successful relocation of 31 bison to the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma.
Park service wildlife biologists estimate that the North Rim bison herd has grown from approximately 100 bison, brought to the House Rock Wildlife Area in the early 1900s, to between 400 to 600 bison. Though the bison roam the Kaibab Plateau, they spend most of their time on the North Rim of the park.
Wildlife biologists predict that the herd could grow to nearly 800 in the next three years and be as large as 1,200 to 1,500 animals within 10 years without further management actions to control the size of the herd.
In the next three to five years, the park service will continue to reduce the size of the House Rock bison herd on the Kaibab Plateau. Operational details of future herd reduction are still being discussed.
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