National Park Service plan to kill bison in Grand Canyon unneeded, unwarranted

By on December 11, 2017 with 23 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The National Park Service (NPS), with a shameful record of allowing the killing of bison who migrate outside of Yellowstone National Park and onto adjacent federal lands, is now planning on opening up a second front against these great and lumbering beasts, the biggest mammals in North America. This time, the NPS is impassively pursuing plans to kill hundreds of bison within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park. If it happens, the NPS will not only be targeting the very symbol of the agency itself and our national mammal (as designated by Congress in 2016), but spilling their blood in or around yet one more jewel of our nation’s most beloved network of federal lands.

In a piece in this weekend’s Arizona Republic, Matthew Scully, onetime senior speechwriter for President George W. Bush, deconstructed the flimsy claims that 400 to 600 bison in the 1.2-million-acre park are too numerous for the land and water resources there. Scully closely examined a little-noticed environmental assessment on the project and found it lacking of any science-based rationale for the plan, yet full of platitudes about prospective bison impacts, with the agency complaining about “soil disturbance” and “erosion potential.” “The bison graze, drink water, and pass through streams, inviting further charges of causing ‘the potential for increasing impacts on vegetation’ and ‘potential concerns about changes to local hydrology’,” reports Scully, himself an Arizona resident and author of the book Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy.

“On such vague and conjectural grounds,” Scully observes, “we are supposed to accept as unavoidable the miserable death of these beautiful creatures – whose presence at the Canyon, it becomes clear, is utterly benign, causing no harm to anyone who leaves them in peace.”

Scully calls on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, often a friend to animal welfare, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to scrap the kill plan. The HSUS has offered to assist in the creation of an alternative management plan, under the supervision of the federal agency, for a fertility control program that would put the brakes on further population growth, even if there have been no adverse environmental consequences from the behavior of the park’s small herd of bison. A similar program is underway on Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of California, and fertility control there has worked with remarkable efficiency.

The Department of Interior estimates that there were once 30 to 50 million bison roaming North America, but today the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the species as near-threatened, believing there are only about 13,000 free-roaming bison, with the rest existing on private lands. One might expect the NPS, which is supposed to protect rare species from wanton killing, to be among the most ardent defenders of the bison, who are an enormous tourist draw in the northern rim of Grand Canyon. But the NPS has played the opposite role.

A narrow majority of the House Natural Resources Committee wants to take it one step further. These lawmakers, all Republicans, want to turn trophy hunters loose inside the park to kill the animals, even though hunting has been outlawed in the park since its establishment in the early part of the 20th century. In fact, an amendment from Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., to authorize hunting in Grand Canyon has been attached to a truly awful bill, euphemistically called the SHARE Act, which also called for opening National Park Service lands in Alaska to the baiting of grizzlies and the killing of wolves in their dens.

Shooting animals accustomed to a non-threatening human presence — the park attracts nearly six million visitors a year — is a betrayal. The charges against the bison are trumped-up and best characterized as fake ecological news. And the millions of visitors to Grand Canyon National Park – who go to catch a glimpse of this iconic species along with the extraordinary western landscape that the Colorado River has carved with awe-inspiring effect – will be left scratching their heads that the federal agency charged with protecting these animals has turned into their persecutor.

We’re willing to step up to the plate to protect our national mammal, an animal so closely associated with our public lands that the bison is the predominant image on the Department of Interior’s own logo. We just need the federal government’s assent and to stand down on a killing plan with no good reasons behind it.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. patrick Boot says:

    humankind stupidity again and again !! …so easy to kill animals !

  2. Elly Opal says:

    I agree. This killing of bison is not needed. What can be done to stop this?

  3. Nancy Telese says:

    This is an outrage The National Park Service should be abolished if this is how they conduct business. Also, Secretary of the Interior should be replaced, as he has a war on animals. He has total disregard for all animal life. Leave these magnificent Bison alone.

  4. Lisa Patch says:

    If the bison have crossed a border out of their allowed territory, move them back to their territory instead of killing them.

  5. Beverly Browder says:

    Leave the Bison alone. They should also be a symbol of America.

  6. Sherian Holt says:

    Im at a loss why there is a war on all wildlife, plus Africa , lions elephants etc . Why ,I cant wrap my head around it . We live in evil times no morals , very few ppl care , to lax on laws . We need stronger laws for animals and enforced . For the abuser faces should be seen like sex abusers etc , stop letting them get away with it .

  7. Richard LaManna says:

    this is absolutely sick! These poor animals have every right to live just like you and me

    • Lisa Shaw says:

      To this country’s politicians: You are ALL savage, greedy pigs. When will you, if at all, see the importance of protecting what’s left of this planet and its creatures? This is absolutely heartbreaking! “Trophy hunters” to be allowed to kill these magnificent animals?? Another group of savages who are also another useless addition to mankind as they are also ego-driven, narcissistic pigs.

      • Sybil Sloan says:

        I have the same strong feelings as many do about the disgusting, and merciless way some people treat animals. What I would like to see is a paragraph written by a bona fide trophy hunter explaining why he/she thinks that hanging an animal head on a wall is a good reason in this day and age for helping to decimate what beautiful nature we have left!

  8. Amy Sky says:

    What can we do?

  9. Kim Montayne says:

    This is an outrage. This senseless killing must be stopped.

  10. Marlon says:

    Even wild animals are smarter than humans as they only kill for their own survival and not for sport and trophies….

  11. Melissa says:

    To respond to one of the previous comments; I think Mr president would adore having any monument named after him.
    Are the rest of the people in Congress that apathetic to go along w the fake share act?
    How do u go about waking up the members of our legislation?

  12. Michelle says:

    The Secretary of the Interior should be ashamed of himself for this and other horrible things he is doing. It’s all about money and his disgusting cronies. It’s repellant that trophy hunters might be allowed to kill these animals. Unfortunately, whatever rich white guys in Washington want, they usually get. Btw, I’m a white person.

  13. Judy siak says:

    Please save the bison. They are Anerica . They have been here before us to roam the open ranges. We need to honor and respect them.

  14. Lea says:

    It’s hard for me to get my head around this (and all other cruel and inhumane things that people do to animals.) Why would this even be considered, let alone ever acted upon?

  15. Miles says:

    It is kind of sad

  16. Miles says:

    Why are they going to kill them

  17. David Smith says:

    There is no need to kill even 1 of them. Ship them all to me in Kentucky. Between all the family we have about 80 acres to run on plus other family that have more that are a few more miles away from me. We would take them all and let them be bison.

  18. Scott McMurray says:

    I truly hope that “someone” will take you up on your offer David!! If I had the land, I would gladly have some of the Bison transported over, if that was possible. These are beautiful & majestic animals that belong here as much as we do!!

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.