Wake Zone Op-Ed - Buffalo
Buffalo - Smart! Federal Government? - Nope!
May 1, 2016
For those who are not aware, the State of Arizona has wild buffalo / bison. Those animals were brought to Arizona by one Charles "Buffalo" Jones in 1906. His dream was to create a hybrid animal and he attempted to mix breed the cow buffalo with Galloway bulls to create an animal better suited to the forage conditions in the West.
That attempt was deemed a failure and eventually the State of Arizona bought 98 bison in 1926. Those animals were placed in the care and custody of what is now the Arizona Game & Fish Department. Congress designated the area we call the Grand Canyon the "Grand Canyon Game Preserve in 1906".
Things Start Going Awry
Now that we have the place and critters involved, let's fast forward almost 70 years and view where things started going awry.
In the mid 1990s, bison started heading south from the area where they had been into what is now the Grand Canyon National Park. This area is quite remote and is miles north of the north rim of the Grand Canyon. In other words, it is not close to the canyon and is in a very remote area.
Complaints from the Grand Canyon National Park soon followed. The reasons are varied as to why the bison were heading south, but suffice to say, when hunting seasons north of the canyon began in earnest, the bison found that harassment and shooting did not occur in the Grand Canyon National Park. bison proved to be pretty astute at when and how to move into the park.
By 2001, the park contacted the department over the incursions of the bison onto the park and the destruction of habitat that was occurring. Please mark that date - 2001!
AZGFD Has Tried Repeatedly
Since that date, the Arizona Game & Fish Department, under the direction of the Commissioners has repeatedly attempted to work with the Grand Canyon National Park personnel to come up with a solution. Since that time, various stakeholders have met with the park personnel to come to a methodology on how to get bison removed from the park.
As the years have passed, the numbers of bison in the park have exploded to a conservative estimate of over 550 and are now destroying habitat, including riparian areas.
In 2012, our Senator John McCain wrote a letter to the Grand Canyon National Park supervisor encouraging them to cooperate with the Department on any management plan to remove the bison. He also asked them to consider whether highly regulated citizen hunting should be evaluated. Director Larry Voyles also suggested that citizen hunting be evaluated in a highly structured format and that a long-term plan of 90 post-hunt bison adults be an objective and that they be kept off the park.
No Mention Of 'Hunting'
It is now 2016; the Grand Canyon National Park issued the following to the public at large: "Proposed National Park Service actions that will be analyzed in the Environmental Assessment include - Implementation of a suite of management tools (e.g., capture/removal, sharpshooting, and localized fencing of sensitive park resources) that would be used, in collaboration with state and federal partners, to reduce the bison population, currently estimated at 400 to 600 animals, to approximately 80 to 200 animals."
The comment period has now passed and if you look carefully at the potential "Solutions", there is no mention of the word "Hunting". Please consider the following.
Money Could Be Generated
When tags are awarded to hunters for bison / buffalo, the cost for an in-state resident to purchase that tag is over $1100.00. For an out-of-state resident, the cost of the tag is over $5,000.00.
Play along with me here. There is an overabundance of bison / buffalo in the Grand Canyon National Park. IF they were to work cooperatively with the Arizona Game & Fish Department, the minimum amount of money that could be generated from license sales would be more than $550,000.00.
The Grand Canyon National Park, however, does not want hunting in a "Park". There have been rare exceptions in "Parks" in the past that allow hunting. (The Grand Tetons National park had been doing it since 1950 and done so without a problem.) So, rather than having a surplus of money from hunting licenses, the Federal Government has stonewalled the most practical solution of allowing people to hunt and keep the meat and instead opted for "Hiring Sharpshooters" as one of the solutions.
The Federal Government is well aware of a sound biological and social remedy that would cost minimal amounts of money and instead proceeds along the path of spending taxpayers' dollars because it makes too much sense to allow the public to enjoy a wonderful hunt.
Sadly, A Sign Of The Times
Sadly, it is a sign of the times. As a business owner, I would rather find solutions quickly and make the best deal possible to keep my business running. With the Federal Government and the Grand Canyon National Park, they would choose to ignore the best solution and not even allow hunting as a solution in the suggest potential remedies.
It has been on the burner for over 16 years now. Moving with the speed of a monolith, the Grand Canyon National Park and the Federal Government have once again proven that pragmatic solutions should never get in the way of spending your taxpayer dollars in a wasteful manner.
An Important Side Note
There is an important side note here. As documented by many sources, and mentioned early in this article, the bison / buffalo were purchased by the State of Arizona. That means they are the property of the State of Arizona. I wonder how much fun an attorney would have by documenting the fact that property of the State of Arizona has been deemed to be in control of the Federal Government and is now going to be disposed of by the Feds without any compensation to the State of Arizona.
Do they have the authority to "take" the state's bison/ buffalo? These are excellent questions for an attorney to answer, particularly since we know that the minimum value of each buffalo is at least $1100.00.
Common Sense Does Not Apply
Excess animals will probably be culled through federally hired sharpshooters. The situation requires that these animals be removed because of the destruction they are causing. If they are going to be harvested, why not do the right thing and let hunters harvest them to feed their families?
Nah - That makes too much sense and we know whom we are dealing with -bureaucrats!