More than 45,000 people are vying for one of a dozen spots to help thin a herd of bison at Grand Canyon National Park. The odds aren't as good as drawing a state tag to hunt the massive animals beyond the boundaries of the Grand Canyon, but they're far better than getting struck by lightning or winning the Powerball. "Just keeping my fingers crossed that I'm one out of 12,” said Rich Dawley Jr. a 29-year-old farmer outside of Gettysburg, Pa., who applied. “You can't win unless you play.” The National Park Service opened a rare opportunity for skilled shooters to kill bison at the Grand Canyon's North Rim where officials say they've been trampling on archaeological and other resources, and spoiling the water. Potential volunteers had 48 hours—until midnight Tuesday—to apply, the AP reports.
The opportunity drew 45,040 applicants, about 15% of which were Arizona residents. About one-third of the applicants were from Texas, California, Colorado, and Utah, said Larry Phoenix, a regional supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The department will select 25 names through a lottery, vet them, and forward finalists to the park service. The first 12 who submit a packet of information requested by the park service will be part of the volunteer program in the fall, Grand Canyon spokeswoman Kaitlyn Thomas said Wednesday. The volunteers who are selected will find out May 17. The work is expected to be grueling, done on foot at elevations of 8,000 feet or higher at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. Volunteers can’t use motorized transportation or stock animals to retrieve the bison that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and will have to field dress them with help from a support crew. Snow could also be a factor.
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