Comments Needed on Bison in Grand Canyon

For over ten years, a small but growing bison herd has been present on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been managing the Buffalo Jones House Rock Valley bison herd in Northern Arizona for over 50 years. Sometime around 2000, the herd was able to moved west to the heavy timber land of the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park after a forest fire opened up a wildlife corridor.

While most of us think of bison as an open grassland species, there is a subspecies of bison called the woodland bison which thrives in woodlands. Thrive is exactly what the northern Arizona bison herd has done in the last decade. The herd's population blossomed to maybe 350 animals.

Questions have been raised as to whether the bison are native to the Park’s highcountry and concerns have arisen about bison adversely impacting fragile seeps and springs along with archeological resources. Concern has also been raised that the bison are "cattalo", and have a mix of cattle and bison genetic DNA. 

Recent studies have concluded that small numbers of bison did exist in the Park highlands of the Colorado Plateau during not only the late Pleistocene, over 13,000 years ago, but also throughout much of the Holocene and into the historic time. Bison managers have discovered that simple fencing can be constructed around sensitive areas to aid in their protection. Scientists have also recently come to realize that in the late 1800’s, fewer than 1,000 bison existed, and the genetics of bison DNA are poorly understood.

RRFW encourages you to comment on the Grand Canyon National Park Bison Management Plan.

Tell the National Park Service that now is the time to implement a visionary Bison Management Plan that includes:

Cooperation with The United States Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument and Arizona Game and Fish to allow the North Rim Bison to expand their range into more of the Arizona Strip wild rangelands.

Encourage Grand Canyon National Park to allow a small viable herd of up to 150 animals to reside in the Park.

Please ask Grand Canyon National Park to consider bison resistant fencing around key seeps and springs as may be required.

Comments are accepted until June 6, 2014 at:

National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at

Additional information is at

Two web based scoping presentations will be made, today, May 6, 2014, and tomorrow. The NPS notes space is limited at both webinars, so individuals are encouraged to reserve a webinar seat early. Registration Information is as follows:

May 6, 2014 Time: 4 pm to 6 pm PDT

Register at:

May 7, 2014 Time: 6 pm to 8 pm PDT

Register at:

After registering for one of the webinars, participants will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.