National Geographic : 1978 Jul
canvas-covered two-seater through the canyon near Toroweap Overlook. All human feces, 40 tons per year if the user days double, would have to be contain erized and carried out of the park. NE DESTRUCTIVE park visitor we all meet along the riverbanks abides by no quotas. The bristly, clever, beloved, obnoxious little African burro-once a valued domestic pack animal-survived the prospectors who brought him a century ago. Now wild, or feral, he has prospered at the expense of the park-eating vegetation, trampling archeological sites, and carving an eroding network of trails. Some say he drives out native residents, most notably the rare desert bighorn sheep. Since 1924 some 2,600 Equus asinushave been shot by the Park Service, and it once in tended to keep on until "all" were gone. A Grand Canyon: Are We Loving It to Death? 1976 report estimated "all" to be between two and three thousand. A year later an other study indicated only 300. This con fused the issue but didn't lessen the pressure. Ever since Jesus rode a burro into Jerusa lem, the animal has enjoyed a special status. A blizzard of emotional "save the burro" let ters made burro-control ranger Jim Walters an instant villain. Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus re sponded to the letters by delaying further ac tion until accurate statistics and more proof of damage could be gathered. The proof, an intensive study, will cost about $1,000 for each of the estimated 300 animals. The average will go down during the two-year project because the population will go up-to about 400-since man is the prolific burro's only predator in the park.