Grand Canyon Wildlife – Bison at the North Rim

Grand Canyon Wildlife – Bison at the North Rim

Grand Canyon visitors have ample opportunity to see wildlife during their visit – Big Horn Sheep, Mule Deer, California Condor, Elk, Grey Fox, Ring Tail Cats, a variety of rattlesnakes and of the course notorious Rock Squirrel, to name a few.� But did you know you can also see bison?� If you are one of the few who travel to the North Rim, you might be lucky enough to see a herd of bison that live on the wilderness area between the Grand Canyon National Park and Kaibab National Forest.

While many people interchange the terms buffalo and bison, according to scientists, buffalo can only be found in the Old World, Asia and Africa and bison are the bovines that evolved in North America, also known as the American Bison.�

In North America, the image of bison is that of herds traveling through the Midwest, hunted by American Indians and settlers during the expansion of the American West.� The bison numbers were dwindling as many called for their protection, most famously Buffalo Bill Cody, while President Ulysses S. Grant pocket vetoed a Federal protection bill and General Philip Sheridan called for their slaughter in order to cut off Native American food sources.� By 1884, the American Bison were close to extinction.� In 1899, the herd began their slow introduction in Montana and other parts of the Midwest, which occurred only nine years after the last major Indian War – Wounded Knee in 1890.

These “”Grand Canyon”” bison were introduced by two North Rim settlers, Charles “”Buffalo”” Jone and Uncle Owens in the early 1900s.� The bison were cross-bred cattle in an attempt to produce a heartier and meatier stock.� Such crosses are referred as cattalo or beefalo.� Since the ranch is no longer in existence, the descendants from this experiment still exist in the area for lucky visitors to enjoy – from a distance.

Next time you are traveling up to the North Rim of Grand Canyon, keep your eyes open as you pass through the wide open mountain meadows, you might just sight these great beasts!