Rep. Gosar Slams Park Service’s New Plan for Bison Management within Grand Canyon: “Too Little Too Late”
For Immediate Release
Date: February 25, 2016
Contact: Steven D. Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the National Park Service announced a 30-day public comment period seeking input on the agency’s plans announced today to shift from developing a long-term management plan for managing the invasive “beefalo” within Grand Canyon National Park (the park) to an effort that instead focuses on initial herd reduction:
“I am outraged that the Park Service would offer a last minute, short-sighted, vague and costly proposal for managing invasive ‘beefalo’ within Grand Canyon National Park the day before my Grand Canyon Bison Management Act is scheduled to pass the full House of Representatives. While it is nice to see the Park Service finally recognize the importance of reducing the herd size in a timelier manner, this eleventh-hour announcement is a shameful attempt to derail commonsense legislation moving through Congress that will allow volunteer Arizona hunters to reduce this invasive population at no expense to the taxpayer.
“The Park Service’s failure to act sooner on this issue forced Senator McCain, Senator Flake and I to introduce bipartisan legislation that allows state-licensed volunteer hunters to cull this unmanageable herd and remove the bison meat from the park. Instead of enlisting expensive sharp shooters who leave carcasses rotting in the park (as outlined in the new Park Service proposal), our bill recruits volunteer hunters to safely thin the bison herd in a coordinated effort that will also generate funding for habitat conservation at no cost to taxpayers.
“Congress should not be distracted by the Park Service’s Hail Mary and should ensure the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act is signed into law. We can’t afford to allow more devastation to be caused to the park while the Park Service twiddles their thumbs trying to come up with an expensive plan. We have a plan and it puts Arizona hunters to work doing what they love, accomplishing this important task for free.”
Arizona Game and Fish Chairman Kurt Davis stated, “Although the Commission finds the timing of the National Park Service change in position peculiar, any progress to reduce damage being caused by bison in the Grand Canyon is welcomed. However, citizen hunters should still be considered as the most significant part of an overall comprehensive solution. The National Park Service is already burdened with more than $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance. Allowing volunteer sportsmen and women to assist in managing the bison population would take the financial burden off the taxpayer and is the most-effective option. Because of this, we still believe legislation will still be needed to provide a lasting solution to protect the Grand Canyon National Park’s assets and critical habitat.”
Congressman Gosar’s bill, the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act, was included in Title XVI of the SHARE Act, this year’s Sportsmen’s Package. H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act is scheduled to pass the full House of Representatives tomorrow, February 26, 2016.
The Park Service announced today that it is now attempting to shift from a slow planning process for beefalo management, likely as a result of movement through the House of Representatives on the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act. Unfortunately, the “expedited” herd reduction plan that was announced still misses the mark as the agency issued predetermined alternative outcomes which intend to utilize expensive sharpshooting, fencing and corralling methods. The plan is also expected to take at least another 8 months to be fully drafted before the agency starts implementation. Furthermore, the information released today says nothing about using the expertise of volunteer hunters to address this issue.
In the past, when the agency has utilized sharpshooters they leave the full animal carcass rotting in the park. A January 2, 2009 letter from more than 100 environmental and conservation groups reported that USDA and DOI spend roughly $100 million on expensive sharpshooters to address issues like this each year.
The Park Service first announced that they were going to pursue a long-term management plan for managing the invasive beefalo within Grand Canyon National Park in the spring of 2014. This plan was expected to take several years to implement and the agency testified in 2015 that they wouldn’t even have a draft plan out for public review and comment until the winter of 2016. While the agency has been dragging its feet for nearly two years, the beefalo population has exploded.
These bison aren't the genuine, iconic American buffalo seen roaming Yellowstone National Park or the Great Plains. They're actually the brood of a bison-cattle crossbreeding experiment that was abandoned in the 1900's.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, the cross-breed of cattle and bison, “the beefalo”, have migrated from the Kaibab National Forest and found sanctuary inside the Grand Canyon National Park, protected from hunters. The estimated 600 head of beefalo are wreaking havoc on the park lands, eating native grasslands and polluting wetlands with their waste. It is estimated that the herd needs to be reduced by about 400 head to meet sustainable management levels.
On March 19, 2015, Congressman Gosar and U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake introduced the Grand Canyon Bison Management Act, a bipartisan and bicameral bill that authorizes volunteer hunters to cull bison inside Grand Canyon National Park and to take home the meat. Specifically, the bill directs the Park Service to use state-licensed skilled-volunteers as part of the solution to this issue at no cost to the American taxpayer. The tags sold for these beefalo will result in significant revenues for state and conservation coffers. The bill also clarifies that bison meat is not ‘federal surplus property’ and is allowed to be removed from the park.
The bill allows hunters and conservationists to play an important role in addressing the beefalo population problem. This legislation requires compliance with all federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act.
Congressman Gosar successfully attached H.R. 1443 by passing an amendment to H.R. 2406 when the bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee in October 2015. Read more HERE. The full text of H.R. 1443 can be found HERE.
The Senate version of the bill, S.782, passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on November 19, 2015.
The eight bipartisan House cosponsors include Congressman Trent Franks (R, AZ-08), Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (D, AZ-01), Congressman Matt Salmon (R, AZ-05), Congressman David Schweikert (R, AZ-06), Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ-09), Congresswoman Cynthia M. Lummis (R, WY-At Large) Congressman Tom McClintock (R, CA-04) and Ryan Zinke (R, MT-At Large).
A recent Fox News article documenting the devastation caused by of the beefalo in the Grand Canyon National Park can be found HERE.