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Grand Canyon seeks ways to manage bison herds

By Felicia Fonseca

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 2 2014 12:48 p.m. MDT

In this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo, Grand Canyon National Park is covered in morning sunlight as seen from a helicopter window, near Tusayan, Ariz.

Julie Jacobson, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The herds of bison roaming the northern reaches of the Grand Canyon are causing some headaches for park staff.

The bison were introduced to the area in 1906 as part of a ranching operation to crossbreed them with cattle. The state owns and maintains the bison on land outside the national park, but the animals have been spending a majority of their time within Grand Canyon boundaries.

The bison don't enter the canyon itself. But they do graze in other sensitive areas of the park, such as Mexican spotted owl habitat, and around archaeological sites and springs.

Grand Canyon officials are looking for ways to manage the roughly 300 bison in a way that preserves the park's resources and allows for a free-ranging population that can be hunted on nearby forest land.

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