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It’s a rare event that is sure to draw experienced big game hunters from around the nation.

The National Park Service is preparing to allow volunteers to enter the Grand Canyon national park in an attempt to “thin the herd” of bison currently residing within the park.

The herd within the national park borders has grown to large and is now negatively affecting the park’s ecosystem. Some of the bison will be shipped out to various other locations around the world, some will be hunted on forest land adjacent to the park, but there will still be a need for an in-park volunteer hunt to reduce the numbers to a sustainable level.

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Within the Grand Canyon, shooters would be selected through a lottery to help bring the number of bison roaming the far northern reaches of the park to no more than 200 within three to five years.

Some 600 of the animals now live in the region, and biologists say the bison numbers could hit 1,500 within 10 years if left uncontrolled.

The Grand Canyon is still working out details of the volunteer effort, but it’s taking cues from national parks in Colorado, the Dakotas and Wyoming that have used shooters to cut overabundant or diseased populations of elk. The Park Service gave final approval to the bison reduction plan this month.

Volunteers will have to meet a rigid set of standards to be allowed to hunt the animals because it’s an inherently dangerous endeavor. Volunteers will need to be physically fit and be proficient with a gun. Much of the hunt will likely have to be on foot and at elevations of over 8,000 feet. The volunteers also have to be capable of hiking eight miles a day, carrying a 60-pound pack and hitting a paper plate 200 yards away five times. It will be an arduous adventure, and there’s one more snag.

Federal law stipulates that hunters can only harvest one bison in their lifetime, meaning that if they’ve already done it in the past, they won’t be able to enjoy the hunt this time around.

For everyone else, this could be the hunt of a lifetime. Are you ready for the hunt?


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