Arizona Bison: The Saga Continues

basin spring excl survey bison little park lakeThe summer of 2014 was an exciting one for several reasons, but primarily because we had the opportunity to work with the Landscape Conservation Initiative to lead a field research experience with four interns from Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDSCP). A newly-established program, the Scholars were undergrads of diverse backgrounds from locations all across the country. We considered this a pilot project for our own developing internship program that Western Sense will initiate in 2015.spring transect

The month-long internship was focused on collecting data to inform the management of an introduced bison herd on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The herd was the focus of Evan’s Master’s thesis research from 2009 to 2012, but no quantitative data had been collected since 2011. Grand Canyon National Park is engaged in a cooperative Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to determine the management action to reduce bison presence inside the National Park. Additionally, many of the bison exclosures established in 2010 and 2011 were damaged and no longer excluding bison use.

Evan set out on July 5th with four enthusiastic interns to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They spent 15 days camping and hiking to collect data on bison impacts to wetland vegetation, bison wallow locations, repair exclosures, and met and assisted staff from Grand Canyon National Park and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Following their field work, the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars assisted with writing a report to the involved agencies. Western Sense submitted the final report to the agencies in September, which will be used to inform the development of the proposed management alternatives in the EIS.

Western Sense plans to stay involved with management of bison in the Grand Canyon region, and hopes to lead DDCSP interns again in 2015. You can read the final report of the internship’s research here:

canyon rainbows

 

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