For the first time in modern history, the National Park Service (NPS) has asked for help from the hunting community to reduce the herd of bison on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. This is an unprecedented opportunity, and hunters nationwide are quick to apply. The NPS is treating this not as a hunting opportunity, but a culling operation, and hunters will be treated as volunteers.

Meat and trophies will be distributed to the volunteers after the operation, so it doesn’t sound like it’s a “pick your trophy” kind of hunt. It’s going to be a lot of hiking, a lot of shooting, and a lot of hauling meat and carcasses out. Volunteers are expected to be in good shape for hiking rough terrain at elevation, and be properly geared up to hunt and pack meat out.

Typical bison hunts on private land range from $4,000 to $6,000 or even higher for a big trophy bull, so naturally the hunting community is excited for this chance to hunt for free (other than a $65 fee for a background check), and use their honed skills to contribute to conservation by management.

Only 25 applicants will be selected at random, and of that 12 final hunters will be chosen for the chance to cull over 400 bison from the herd of approximately 600 animals. Without management, the herd is expected to grow to over 1,500 bison in the coming years and is at risk for damaging its habitat from overuse.

The bison herd cull will take place this September and October in 4 different 5-day operations, presumably with 3 volunteer hunters in each operation, and meat, hides and so forth will be distributed to volunteers at the discretion of NPS after each operation.

Applications are only open until 11:59pm on Tuesday May 4, 2021 (Arizona time), and you can apply here: https://www.azbisonstewards.com/

You can read more FAQs from the NPS here: https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/nature/bison-reduction-faqs.htm