Grand Canyon Elk Outsmart Water Faucets

Elk at the South Kaibab water filling station.

Elk at the South Kaibab water filling station. 

Elk have learned to turn on the water at Grand Canyon filling stations. They simply lift the spring-loaded lever and help themselves to a drink. The park has enclosed some faucets in a cage, and on others have installed buttons to deter the elk. When it comes to food and water sources, the animals can get possessive and try to protect the faucets from park visitors. Whole herds can congregate around a water filling station.

About a dozen of the filling stations are set up throughout the park, but the elk favor one at South Kaibab Trail because it allows them to easily duck back into the woods.

ABC News interviewed wildlife biologic Brandon Holton who said, "The elk haven't hurt anyone at the stations, but the animals have charged at wildlife biologists trying to disperse herds with as many as 20 elk by staring them down and shooting them with paintball and water guns. Some move, some don't," he said. "Sometimes when you shoot them with water guns, they open their mouth."

Some comments by park visitors suggest that the Grand Canyon should provide watering stations for the elk. It is important to note that National Parks are not zoos. Just as we prevent people from feeding wild animals and we make efforts to protect trash and human food from access by these animals, we need to be sure the parks are not "watering" elk.


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