Elk Guard Water Stations in Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon officials have reduced waste by banning disposable plastic water bottles and installing water stations for visitors. But a new problem sprung up: Elk are helping themselves to water at the stations by lifting spring-loaded levers with their noses.

Now, officials plan to elk-proof the stations to outsmart the animals, conserve water and protect visitors from aggressive behavior by the animals. They are experimenting with a cage around the spouts at one water station and will change the way it’s turned on.

“They got a little aggressive about it,” chief resource manager Martha Hahn said. “They were pretty protective of that water and wanting to get it first.”

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.

The elk don’t always back down when visitors approach. Instead, they take a firm stance, particularly when protecting calves or during fall rutting season.

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