News Release

Rangers at Grand Canyon National Park Remind Visitors to View Wildlife Safely

four people standing on a footpath, taking photos of a bull elk on a hill off in the distance.
Watching an elk from a safe distance.

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
News Release Date: May 16, 2018

Contact: Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, AZ- Rangers at Grand Canyon have responded to several human-animal interactions in the last few weeks, one of which resulted in serious, but not life-threatening injuries to a visitor. The National Park Service reminds visitors to enjoy Grand Canyon safely and to remember a visit to Grand Canyon is not like going to the zoo-there are no fences to separate you from real wild animals.  

At Grand Canyon National Park, animals like elk sometimes lose their natural fear of people and can become habituated by the presence of food and water. During spring and summer, female elk become protective of their calves. Similarly, during the fall breeding season, male elk can exhibit aggressive behaviors. Even small animals such as squirrels and ravens can have the bold habit of approaching people, looking for food, opening bags, and on occasion, biting hands. Animals that have been habituated to humans can be at risk of disease, poor health, injuries or euthanasia.

Reporting an inappropriate human-animal interaction at Grand Canyon is as easy as dialing 9-1-1. Visitors and residents who see an animal acting aggressively towards people, or people approaching, feeding, or harassing wildlife may report the incident to Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center by locally calling 9-1-1 or 928-638-7805. Please take note of where the incident occurred and if there are any injuries to people or wildlife. Visitors and residents are responsible for their own safety and the safety of the animals, too.

When capturing unique wildlife moments, be a smart photographer and keep safety in the picture. Follow these picture-perfect tips for an enjoyable experience watching wildlife.
  • Take your time! Wildlife are more active during dawn or dusk which also has some of the best lighting for photos.
  • Follow the rule of thumb: if you can cover the entire wild animal with your thumb you're at a safe distance. This distance is usually 25 yards from most wildlife and 100 yards from large wildlife.
  • Use binoculars or a camera with zoom to view animals from a safe distance. To steady your shot rest your elbows on your ribcage or knees.  
  • Stay quiet and still on the safe side of railings- noise and quick movements can threaten wildlife.
  • Use field guides to help you identify what you're seeing.
Wild animals are more interesting to watch as they follow their instincts and experience the world with little human interaction. If you are close enough to take a selfie with an animal, you are too close. For more information on how to see and photograph wildlife at Grand Canyon National Park, visit: 

Use the #FindYourDistance or #SafeSelfie on social media to share your photos of safe wildlife interactions. 

Last updated: May 17, 2018

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



Contact Us