Bison hunters wanted – but you have to be in amazingly good shape

It'll be at the Grand Canyon in the middle of a cold, snowy winter.
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Volunteers will have a chance to be part of a bison roundup near the Grand Canyon this winter – or possibly even hunt the big mammals. 

But only if the volunteers are up for a really tough physical test that involves hiking miles through the snow for days with a heavy pack on your back. 

Grand Canyon National Park says the bison herd there is getting so big it's damaging the park. So they've come up with the outline of a plan to have volunteers help park staff round up some of the bison to be moved elsewhere. 

Other bison who wander into the forest outside the park will be hunted. 

Earlier this month the National Park Service signed off on the plan, saying that thinning the bison herd would not hurt the park. 

What's the problem?

Park managers say the bison mainly just live on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, which is in Arizona. 

As the number of bison in that area keeps growing, they are trampling the plants and the soil, which wipes out food for other animals. They're also fouling the water and messing up archaeological sites. 

Plus your average bison eats 30 pounds of grass and drinks 10 gallons of water every day, KNAU of Flagstaff reports

Biologists say an ideal-sized herd for the Grand Canyon would have fewer than 200 bison. Right now there are 400 to 600, park officials say, and if nothing is done the number could be 1,200 or more ten years from now. 

This is seriously hard work

The Park Service is still putting the finishing touches on how the roundup/hunt will work, as well as their system for picking volunteers.

But they know it'll be done between October and May, when the road to the canyon's north rim is closed. The BBC says the plan is to use a lottery to select the volunteers. 

Carl Latch, a game and fish manager in Flagstaff, told the Associated Press the work will be done on foot at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Latch said the volunteers will need to be able to hike about 8 miles a day ... in the snow ... with a 60-pound pack on their back ... and shoot a paper plate with a rifle from 200 yards away, hitting it five times. 

Latch said there's talk about letting volunteer hunters keep some of the bison meat. The meat will be hauled out of the area on sleds, snowmobiles, or possibly helicopters. The hides and heads of the animals will be donated to tribes or to federal or state agencies, Latch told the AP. 

Right now there's nowhere for interested volunteers to apply, but an announcement about the process is expected soon. 

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