Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
If you visit the Grand Canyon this summer you might witness a majestic herd of bison roaming near the North Rim. While to the average tourist the bison might seem like a totally natural sight, conservationists don’t see it that way. As the National Park Conservation Association explained, “they argue that the bison don’t belong in the park, where the animals overgraze meadows, contaminate water sources and trample archaeological sites. Left alone, the herd of more than 600 — no one knows exactly how many — could more than double over the next decade.”
How Did the Bison Get There? It’s kind of a wild back story but as the NPCA explained,
In 1906, a frontiersman named Charles Jones assembled a herd of bison captured in places from Manitoba to Texas and attempted to breed them with Galloway cattle. This type of experimentation was common at the time, and these days, many bison contain some cattle DNA.
Jones struggled to build a profitable enterprise, though, and he gave up after a few years. He sold some of the animals, but about 20 were pretty much left to their own devices in House Rock Valley near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
By the time the state of Arizona purchased the herd in 1927, it had grown to 98 bison. To protect themselves from hunters the bison have since started avoiding House Rock Vally and now mostly live exclusively in the North Rim.
Bison Are Not Considerate Guests: The bison have ruined Native American artifacts, harmed native plant species, and have also spread E. coli in local streams and waterways. According to the National Park Service, water monitoring around the Grand Canyon has “indicated increased levels of E. coli bacteria in standing water associated with bison grazing areas. Large ungulate herds are known to cause significant damage to water sources through contamination and soil compaction.”
A Bison is a Bison is a Bison, Right? Well not exactly. Since the bison were bred with cattle long ago many consider them to be a non-native hybrid species, however, the Park Service has officially declared them to be native to the park. This can affect how the buffalo herds might be culled or corralled in the future.
Why This Matters: Addressing the bison problem at the Grand Canyon is difficult because the National Park Service has few resources to devote to the endeavor. Additionally, a change of park superintendent, chronic understaffing and a government shutdown over the winter have not helped. The NPS has stated that lethal culling will not take place in 2019 and plans to take it up in the future are not yet established. Other ideas include transporting the animals to their historic ranges, but again, understaffing and underfunding at NPS makes and proactive plan difficult to implement.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer As the world warms, it’s not just people who are feeling the heat. Bats are also susceptible to extreme heat, and overheated bat boxes can be “a death trap,” the Guardian reports. In the wild, bats move between rock and tree crevices in search of a perfectly moderated temperature. […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new report entitled The World’s Forgotten Fishes from the World Wildlife Fund has found that there has been a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of all freshwater fish species coming perilously close to extinction. The statistics paint a sobering picture: 26% of all critically […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Move over Dolly, there’s a new clone in town and her name is Elizabeth Ann the Black-Footed ferret. You read that right; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on Thursday that it had successfully cloned the first U.S. endangered species. Elizabeth Ann was born on December 10, […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.