Which animals are dangerous in Zion, Grand Canyon?

Stock Image | St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Now that the weather is heating up in Southern Utah, visitors to national parks and avid hikers are likely to encounter wildlife.

Animal sightings at Zion National Park are common, said Janice Stroud-Settles, a wildlife biologist at Zion.

Squirrel stock image | St. George News

Squirrels, chipmunks and desert bighorn sheet are the animals visitors are most likely to see.

Luckily, no animal attacks have been reported at Zion this year, she said.

Squirrels have been the most problematic in the park through recent years because they like to beg for food, Stroud-Settles said.

“I like to say squirrels are the most dangerous animals in the park because people interact with them so much,” she said, explaining that visitors can be bitten by squirrels if they feed them.

Snake sightings are also common but people willingly stay away from them, she added.

As for larger animals, park visitors are likely to see desert bighorn sheep near the east entrance.

Big horn sheep stock image | St. George News

Their mating season starts in July and lasts through October, so Stroud-Settles said it’s especially important to keep a distance during that time because they’ll be hormonal and don’t like to be bothered.

Park officials advise visitors to stay 15 yards from smaller animals like squirrels and 30 yards distance from larger animals like the bighorn sheep.

Even though it may be tempting, Stroud-Settles also said, do not feed wildlife.

Animals at other national parks, such as Grand Canyon National Park, can also pose risks if you’re not careful.

Elk can lose their fear of people if food or water is present and can exhibit aggressive behaviors. Female elk are also protective of their calves during spring and summer.

Grand Canyon National Park officials advise visitors to adhere to the following safety tips when taking pictures of wildlife:

  • Follow the rule of thumb: If from your vantage point you can cover the entire animal with your thumb, then you’re at a safe distance.
  • Use a camera with zoom to view wildlife from a safe distance.
  • Stay quiet. Sudden noises or movement can threaten wildlife.

Additional information and safety tips on encountering wildlife can be found at Zion’s website and Grand Canyon’s website.

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Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Carpe Diem June 2, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Hmmm. Have never heard of anyone attacked by a Bighorn. Except myself, when encountering a wild herd, who were upslope, and they kicked rocks down toward me. Or so it seemed. Squirrels? Please dont feed them.

  • Carpe Diem June 2, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    And talking about kicking rocks, I have had female coworkers do this to me while planting trees with the US Forest Service in WA. They were pesky.

  • comments June 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    The tourists have turned the squirrels into vermin monsters by feeding them. What’s needed are signs that say things like “Dear tourists, this is not disneyland, the rattlesnakes here are not going to talk and sing and be your friend, do not attempt to feed them or pet them.”

  • Mike P June 3, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Sorry, but the only animals that are dangerous in Zion and Grand Canyon are Humans……………

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