A call for volunteers for a bison shoot in the Grand Canyon has drawn tens of thousands of applications, with just a dozen spots up for grabs.
More than 45,000 people responded to the rare call by the National Park Service, which said it was seeking ‘skilled shooters’ to thin out a bison herd that has been destroying resources in the area.
The odds of being selected to participate in the shoot are around 1 in 800 – much lower than for a more regular state hunt – but clearly a lot of people saw the rare opportunity to hunt in one of the natural wonders of the world worth taking their chances for.
Roughly 15% of the applications came from Arizona residents, with a further third coming from the nearby states of Texas, California, Utah and Colorado. According to NPS spokesperson Kaitlyn Thomas, 25 names will be drawn by a lottery for full vetting, with the first 12 to submit their information set to be part of the volunteer shooting party slated to take place this autumn.
The process leaves the 45,000 applicants with a small wait to find out if they’ve been selected. Speaking to the Associated Press, 29-year old Pennsylvania farmer Richard Dawley Jr said he was ‘just keeping my fingers crossed that I’m one out of 12,’ adding ‘you can’t win unless you play.’
Each person will only be allowed to kill one bison out of the 300-500 strong herd, with 90 of the herd having already been transported from the Canyon’s north rim to Native American tribal lands. The NPS has said the goal bison population in the Canyon is 200.
The event isn’t technically classified as a hunt – those are prohibited in National Parks – but authorities are permitted to use volunteers to kill animals that pose a threat to resources. Posted last week, the NPS advert said that the animals had been trampling on archaeological and other materials, and spoiling the area’s water supply.
Archaeologist Matt Mallery, who is based in nearby Flagstaff, AZ, explained that the Park Service’s plan was a cost-effective way of containing the bison population, and would both help to regulate the ecosystem and provide an opportunity for harvesting organic bison meat.
Mallery himself has applied to join the shoot, saying ‘It needs to happen for management purposes… and if it’s going to be somebody, it may as well be me.’