Bison are thriving near the north rim of the Grand Canyon, but not the ecosystem
June 4, 2018
Bison didn’t arrive at the north rim of the Grand Canyon until the early 2000s, but now they are taking over the area and the ecosystem can’t keep up.
The bison were originally brought to other parts of Arizona about one hundred years ago to cross-breed with cattle. The experiment failed, and the large animals settles in the Kaibab Plateau where there’s plenty of food, few predators and they are protected by the law that prevents open hunting.
“Starting at about the 1990s or so there were maybe 100 bison on the north rim of the Grand Canyon,” says Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for the park. “Now that number has increased over the years… What we’re really trying to do right now is reduce the herd over the next three to five years.”
Wildlife Biologist at the Grand Canyon Brandon Holton says the ecosystem hasn’t evolved with the number of bison which is why some negative impacts are being seen. Eating 30 pounds of grass a day per bison, the animals have overgrazed the land.
“I think they need to be controlled, and they need to be rounded up and moved out of the park,” Grand Canyon Program Coordinator for the Sierra Club Alicyn Gitlin says. “I think the protection of park resources should be the ultimate goal of this project. I think it’s really important that we act now to move these animals away from the park.”
The goal is to move the bison to an area that is more fit to deal with their species. Not only are the bison putting strain on the grass, but they’re also taking food away from other animals like mule deer and elk.