U.S. Senators McCain, Flake Lead Committee Passage Of Bipartisan Grand Canyon Bison Management Act

bisoninstreamfirstforwildlife052114The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill to allow the Arizona Game and Fish Department to assist in better management and conservation of the bison population within Grand Canyon National Park.

On November 19, the Committee passed Senate Bill 782, which is known as the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act. The bipartisan bill will next be considered by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The act strives to protect the Grand Canyon’s critical habitat, cultural and archaeological sites by requiring the U.S. Department of Interior and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to coordinate on a plan that allows sportsmen with valid state-issued hunting licenses to assist in management of the bison population.

“The Grand Canyon National Park is a cornerstone of the Wonders of the World,” Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Kurt Davis said. “The park’s habitat is currently challenged by more than 600 bison that often reside within the park. In addition, the National Park Service is already strapped with an $11.5 billion unfunded maintenance backlog. Allowing volunteer sportsmen and women to assist in managing the bison population would be a direct cost savings to taxpayers and would quickly improve habitat within the Grand Canyon National Park.”

The Commission thanked U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake for carrying this bill and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for supporting the commonsense initiative, Davis added.

“We are grateful that the Committee has passed our bill with bipartisan support, bringing us one step closer to addressing the Grand Canyon’s unmanageable bison problem,” Sens. McCain and Flake said in a joint statement.

Wildlife surveys estimate that about 600 bison have migrated into the Grand Canyon National Park where hunting is prohibited. The park has since become a safe haven for the exploding bison population, which has led to overgrazing and damage to the Grand Canyon’s natural resources.

“While current regulations require the park to spend taxpayer dollars to contract out culling services to sharpshooters, our bill would tap volunteer hunters who are eager to help maintain the environmental health of Grand Canyon National Park at no expense to the taxpayer,” McCain and Flake said. “We look forward to working with our colleagues to include this bill in the larger Sportsmen’s legislation as it advances through Congress.”

An identical version of the act sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar cleared the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee in October. The House version is co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert and Trent Franks.

In addition to gaining bipartisan support in the House, the bill was backed by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

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