Story at a glance

  • Only 12 people will earn a chance to help thin the herd of bison at the Grand Canyon National Park, and the odds are stacked against all of them as they are competing with more than 45,000 others for the opportunity.
  • The Arizona Game and Fish Department will pick 25 names via lottery, vet them, and the first 12 to submit an informational packet will earn a spot.
  • Each volunteer will be allowed to kill one bison.

Only 12 people will earn a chance to help thin the herd of bison at the Grand Canyon national park, and the odds are stacked against all of them as they are competing with more than 45,000 others for the opportunity. 

Volunteers were given 48 hours to apply for the rare opportunity to kill bison at the Grand Canyon’s Northern rim where officials said the bison are depleting resources, The Associated Press (AP) reported. A total of 45,040 people applied. Only 15 percent of all applicants were from Arizona. 

Each volunteer will be allowed to kill one bison


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The Arizona Game and Fish Department will pick 25 names via lottery, vet them, and the first 12 to submit an informational packet will earn a spot, Grand Canyon spokesperson Kaitlyn Thomas said Wednesday, according to the AP. Volunteers will be notified May 17. 

Yet applicants like Rich Dawley Jr., a 29-year-old Pennsylvania farmer, are hopeful despite the long odds.

“Just keeping my fingers crossed that I’m one out of 12,” Dawley said. “You can’t win unless you play.”

Volunteers, working at elevations of 8,000 feet or more, will not be allowed to use vehicles or animals to transport dead bison, which could weigh around a ton. The bison must also be dressed in the field without the assistance of a support team, according to the AP. 

James Vasko, a real estate and farm worker in Omaha, Neb., told the AP that he’s just excited for the opportunity. 

“I just thought it would be a cool experience,” Vasko said. “I’m an avid fisher, hunter. Going to the Grand Canyon to hunt bison would be absolutely awesome.”

The National Park Service made it clear on its webpage that this will not qualify as hunting, which is illegal in national parks. The service said that it is authorized “lethal removal” for management purposes. 


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Published on May 06, 2021