The American Bison or buffalo are not native to Arizona. In 1906, Charles Jesse Jones, aka “Buffalo Jones”, drove a small herd of buffalo from Utah to northern Arizona to what is now known as Bright Angel Point which is within the Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim, in an attempt to crossbreed them with cattle. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve in 1906. The game preserve which includes 612,736 acres of the Kaibab National Forest, is “set aside for the protection of game animals and birds,” and is “to be recognized as a breeding place therefore.” Congress designated the Grand Canyon Game Preserve in 1906 and the Congressional Report (Protection of Wild Animals in the Grand Canyon Forest Preserve) described the area as “ideal for buffalo, deer and other wild game.”
The National Park Service, governing the Grand Canyon National Park, several years ago has come to the conclusion that the current population of buffalo then of approximately 400 animals which now has multiplied into 500-600 head has to be reduced to minimize damage to the park’s habitat, water holes and source, fences meadows and riparian areas. During the process, the NPS has had to engage on compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA’s and Environmental Impact Study EIS’ to satisfy federal governing regulations. Meanwhile, the buffalo population continued to increase as well as the damage within the park.
The Wildlife area has never been completely enclosed by fencing. The northern fence has been maintained as required by the MOU, but gets very little pressure from bison. Some sections of fence were built between substantial terrain features on the eastern monocline, but due to concerns with mule deer migration, effects of high seasonal water flows and lack of adequate maintenance funds, all fencing efforts were discontinued.