BYE BYE GRAND CANYON :(
Grand Canyon Travel Blog› entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
August 17th, 2009 – by: mellemel8
BISON, BISON, BISON.....OH MY!!!!
I got up at 8am. I wanted to start cleaning and packing up. I had the last of the cereal, turkey and cheese. The rest were planning to have breakfast at the lodge. I plan to leave my crappy hiking boots here. It is not even worth to bury it. I only wore it 2 times. I could not wait to shower when I get back home.
I finally took good photos of the canyon. The sun was over the canyon which enhances the colors on the canyon. We were making good time. it was 10:30am and we were ready to hit the road. As we were leaving Grand Canyon, we saw a herd of bison.
Wildlife & Bison arrive in Grand Canyon uninvited
While Yellowstone National Park struggles to keep its bison herd within park boundaries, managers at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona are facing the opposite problem.
Drought has recently driven a herd of bison into the park from the House Rock Valley, a region of steep, wooded canyon lands in the Kaibab National Forest just north of Grand Canyon. The herd's ancestors were imported into the state in the 1930s for Charles "Buffalo" Jones' infamous "cattalo" experiment.
Biologists with the National Park Service say the huge animals (males can weigh up to 2,500 pounds) are wallowing in riparian areas and damaging cultural sites. They considered building a fence, but that would affect other wildlife, such as mule deer. And any fence designed to halt bison would have to be a real bear: The animals are reported to be able to clear obstacles up to six feet high.
But some biologists - and the Arizona Game and Fish Department - believe bison belong here.
Published evidence of bison north of the Grand Canyon, Mead says, is spotty at best. But he claims a rock art panel in the new Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument shows a "definite" bison, along with horses and a rider. Since horses weren't here until the Spanish brought them in the 16th century, that points to historical evidence of bison, he says.
More research remains to be done: According to Mead, no one has really looked for historical evidence in suitable bison habitat, such as the forests frequented by the current herd.
Scientists also want to conduct genetic tests to be certain the bison aren't harboring cattle genes. If they're "tofu-eating half-breeds," Mead says the park will have a strong case for their removal. If they're pure - and native - they'll almost be guaranteed the right to remain.
Allowing the herd to stay will present serious management challenges, says Jeffrey Cross, Grand Canyon's chief of natural resources. Visitors to the park will need to know how to behave if they find themselves face-to-face with a truck-sized bison in the woods.
If there is no evidence that animals are native, and the state is asked to remove the herd, Grand Canyon managers know they're up against dicey politics. After all, says Cross, "the Park Service has a buffalo head on its emblem.
Grand Canyon National Park has 75 species of mammals, 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, 25 species of fish, and over 300 species of birds exist.
Two of the park's most celebrated inhabitants are the Albert squirrel and the Kaibab squirrel. The Kaibab squirrel only lives on the north rim and the Albert squirrel are found only on the south rim. They shared the same ancestor, the tassel-eared squirrel. Widely separated by the vast canyon, each cousin has evolved into two separate and distinct species.
The park is home to a wide variety of animals. Mule deer are common throughout the park and are the mammals most commonly seen on the rim. Desert bighorn inhabit the remote slopes of the inner canyon but are occasionally seen on established trails. Bobcats and coyotes range from rim to river, and a small population of mountain lions exists in the park. Among the smaller mammals that inhabit Grand Canyon are ringtails (closely related to raccoons), beavers, gophers, chipmunks, several varieties of squirrels, rabbits and bats.
Grand Canyon National Park is home to a number of threatened and endangered species. The native Colorado River fish have suffered as a result of the dramatic changes in water volume, temperature and sediment load since the completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. These fish include the Colorado squawfish, humpback chub, and bonytail chub. Several species of endangered birds make Grand Canyon home, including the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and willow flycatcher. A number of endangered plants can also be found in the park, including. More and more, protected lands like Grand Canyon National Park provide a refuge for plants and animals that are under increasing pressure elsewhere.
UNTIL NEXT TIME.........
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