Keep Wildlife Wild
For Your Safety and Theirs
To many people, the opportunity to view the wildlife in Grand Canyon National Park is as amazing as the spectacular views.
All wildlife in Grand Canyon National Park is protected by federal law. Most people know that hunting and trapping are not allowed in national parks, yet many people may not realize that approaching or feeding animals is also prohibited. These actions are against park regulations because they are harmful to animals. When you approach too closely to wildlife, you may cause them stress and interfere with behaviors necessary for their survival.
Animals that are fed by people become dependent on human food, and may lose their natural fear of humans and their ability to forage for natural foods. There is a lot of truth to the saying, "a fed animal is a dead animal." In addition to losing their foraging ability, animals that have been fed are less likely to survive other reasons. Animals that have been fed from cars congregate near roadways and are at a high risk of being killed by vehicle collisions.
In recent years, the National Park Service has had to euthanize deer, coyotes, rock squirrels and other animals at Grand Canyon that had become overly aggressive towards humans and/or had become completely dependant on food handouts. Park rangers work to preserve and protect park resources, including wildlife. NPS staff find it heartbreaking when they are forced to euthanize animals whose aggressive behaviors were caused by being fed by well-meaning people.
Seemingly tame animals are still wild, and may behave unpredictably. Animals may use their teeth, claws, hooves, antlers, or horns to defend themselves. View wildlife from a safe distance. Leave animals enough room to make an escape if they feel threatened. You are too close to an animal if your presence causes them to move.
Many visitors to Grand Canyon may think that species such as rattlesnakes and mountain lions pose the greatest risks to people. In fact, people are much more likely to be injured by rock squirrels, or by deer or elk. During the summer, rock squirrels commonly bite visitors who are feeding them, or who are just holding their finger out towards them. Park rangers regularly tell visitors that squirrels are the most dangerous animal in the park because squirrel bites are so frequent.
Grand Canyon National Park is a sanctuary and home for wildlife. By treating wildlife with respect and not approaching or feeding them, you are aiding their chance for survival. By keeping wildlife wild, you are protecting their safety-and yours.
A Biologist’s Biologist: Remembering Eric York
Mountain Lion Research at Grand Canyon
Amphibians of Grand Canyon NP (31kb PDF File)
Arizona Game and Fish Web Site
Did You Know?
The Cambrian seas of the Grand Canyon were home to several kinds of trilobite, whose closest living relative is the modern horsehoe crab. They left their fossil record in the mud of the Bright Angel Shale over 500 million years ago.