Bison are only found on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. They are wild animals and are unpredictable. We recommend maintaining a distance of 100 feet (30 meters) from them, and when they are within 100 feet of the road, it is recommended to view them from inside your vehicle. Please use established gravel or paved pull-outs to park vehicles completely off the roadway (all wheels right of the white line). Do not walk or park in the road. B-roll video by L/Cisneros, July 2022.
Management of the Kaibab Plateau Bison Herd
The present day Kaibab Plateau Bison Herd is one of the few unfenced wild herds in the U.S., and as such, wanders across multiple jurisdictions. The herd is co-managed by Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona Game & Fish, and the Kaibab National Forest. To learn more about the Kaibab Plateau Bison Herd visit the Bison at Grand Canyon: Kaibab Plateau Herd Information page.
Herd Reduction to Date (December 2022)
Since reduction efforts began in 2018, park staff have removed 206 bison from the North Rim with 182 transferred to eight different American Indian tribes through the InterTribal Buffalo Council (see map). In total, including transfers and off-park harvests managed by Arizona Game & Fish, 385 bison have been removed over the last four years.
Current Herd Population Size (January 2023)
The National Park Service, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, have completed the 2023 annual pre-calving winter bison survey for the Kaibab Plateau Bison Herd on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. These surveys are flown when there is snow on the ground which makes the bison easier to see. Surveys are conducted from the air using a helicopter and airplanet over the winter range of the herd which is mostly along the North Rim. Tracking collars are used to help estimate the bison missed during surveys. As of January 2023, Kaibab Plateau Bison Herd pre-calving estimate is 227 bison (with a 95% confidence interval of 199-316). On average the herd grows by 48 calves each year. The park is on target to reach the goal of below 200 bison from a high of 600-800 in 2016.
Lethal removal of bison with public volunteers will not occur in 2023.
Based on the success of bison reduction efforts, lethal removal operations will not be necessary in 2023 to reach the park’s stated reduction goal of maintaining a bison population at or below 200 animals. Park managers will focus on live capture and transfer operations with the target of removing approximately 40-60 bison. Bison selected for removal will be transferred to the InterTribal Buffalo Council for distribution to American Indian tribes who request live bison to augment their own herds.
A Tribal lethal removal will occur in 2023.
In 2022 the park entered into a General Agreement for Tribal Lethal Removal with traditionally associated tribes. The Tribal Cull meets the intent of equity for lethal culling opportunities for tribes and the public as authorized under the EA and additionally provides an opportunity for local and traditionally assoicated tribes to access meat, hides and animal parts for traditional, cultural, educational, and religious use.
If you have any specific questions related to bison management at Grand Canyon, please e-mail us.
This video presents an overview of bison management on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. By 2025, the National Park Service will reduce the size of the overpopulated Kaibab Plateau bison herd through live capture and transfer to American Indian Tribes and lethal removal with Skilled Volunteers. Grand Canyon National Park is reducing the size to under 200 in order to protect park resources—including vegetation, water, and sacred archeologic sites—from the impacts of the bison.