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Bison roaming, wreaking havoc in section of Grand Canyon

PHOENIX — A ranch north of the Grand Canyon has bred and maintained bison as a hunting stock for more than a century.

Recently, the bison have broken into the park where hunting isn’t allowed. The National Park Service is working on a plan to get them removed, but that won’t be easy, according to Kevin Dahl with the National Parks Conservation Association.

By being in the park, they are causing problems.

“They look like Bison,” Dahl said. “They have some cow genes in them. When they get into a fragile spring area they can really cause a mess.

“They’ve chewed up the meadow areas. They’re not native to the area and were originally brought in by a friend of President Teddy Roosevelt.”

The fences built to keep the bison in a certain area don’t do the job.

“There are some hunters that think they could solve the problem but it’s a much more complicated solution than just hunting being allowed in the Grand Canyon National Park, which isn’t going to fly,” Dahl said. “If a hunt is needed to get the bison out of the park it needs to be carried out by professionals, rather than the system that allows typical hunters to get a tag for deer and elk by way of lottery.”

Senator John McCain presented a bill to Congress in 2014 that would allow anyone who kills bison at the Grand Canyon to keep the meat.

“The National Park Service is preparing an environmental impact statement and the public will have a chance to look that over and agree or disagree and they’ll come with a final decision,” Dahl said.

The herd is estimated at 500 plus head currently.