(CBS) – The National Park Service says in just 48 hours, 45,000 people signed up for an opportunity to kill 12 bison in the Grand Canyon.
The parks service opened up the hunting application because it is concerned with the growth of a bison heard in the North Rim area of the Grand Canyon, according to a news release.
The herd may impact water, vegetation, soils and archaeological sites in the park and “reducing the herd size will protect the park ecosystem, resources and values,” the park service said.
Out of the 45,000 people interested in the opportunity, 25 applicants will be selected from the pool and then out of those, 12 volunteers will be chosen by a random lottery system on May 17.
The hunt will be done on foot at elevations of 8,000 feet or higher, according to the AP. The trek is expected to be grueling as volunteers can’t use motorized transportation or stock animals to retrieve the bison – which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Hunters will have a crew to help field dress, or remove the internal organs of, the bison.
On top of the already difficult hunting expedition, it could also snow.
The park service has a goal to reduce the size of the Kaibab Plateau bison herd by 2025. Some bison will be captured and transferred to Native American tribes. Others will be killed by skilled volunteers. Grand Canyon National Park hopes to reduce the herd to under 200 bison.
There will be 12 opportunities for skilled volunteers to hunt bison in the Grand Canyon in 2021. The application process for each weeklong hunt will be run by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
In September 2020, Grand Canyon wildlife managers relocated 57 bison from the North Rim to the Intertribal Buffalo Council. They were then transported to various tribes, including the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation in Kansas, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and the Santee Sioux Tribe in Nebraska.
Biologists with the parks service says 100 bison were brought to the House Rock Wildlife Area in the early 1900s. They estimate the herd has grown to between 400 to 600 bison. Biologists predict the herd could grow to 800 in three years and between 1,200 to 1,500 in 10 years without further action to control the size.