By Mike Bodenchuk, Editor-at-Large
The US National Park Service (NPS) released its Draft Environmental Assessment for the "Initial Bison Herd Reduction" within Grand Canyon National Park in May, inviting public comment on the document. Disappointingly, the NPS dismissed public hunting as an opportunity of reducing the herd to within park carrying capacity. In a three-paragraph discussion, NPS rationalized not considering the option because it was "inconsistent with existing laws, policies and regulations for the park." They also went on to describe the difference between hunting and culling (their preferred terminology), stating that culling is a "very controlled and structured activity used to meet specific resource management objectives . . . and is not implemented as a type of recreation
" (emphasis ours).
It is no secret that there are many in the NPS who are anti-hunting, and the justification they provide is aimed at placating their anti-hunting employees and constituents, conveniently ignoring the fact that, throughout the world, hunting is a controlled and structured activity that is used to meet resource management objectives. This statement by the NPS is insulting to hunters who have championed conservation from its beginning.
The NPS notes that hunting is prohibited in national parks except where "specifically mandated by federal statutory law" (36 CFR 2.2). This is a park service regulation and Congress can certainly override it. Congress did exactly that in authorizing elk hunting in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park. They also need to consider it for elk in Rocky Mountain National Park and for this bison herd in the Grand Canyon....