- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Officials at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah are considering new ways to deal with a rare but recurring problem: wayward cows that become stuck in slot canyons.

The problem resurfaced Dec. 9, when a visitor told officials about a cow that had become trapped in Peek-a-Boo Canyon, which is popular among hikers.

A rancher who holds grazing permits for the area made matters worse after he failed to drive his cow out of the canyon the way it had come in, according to monument officials. His ranch hands then killed the cow and cut off its head and front quarters, but the rear half remained wedged in the narrow passage.

The carcass was finally set on fire in hopes of making it easier to pull out, but instead, rocky debris from above crashed down to end the comedy of errors.

“We are working to see if we can get any more of the animal out and spread the rocks around,” monument spokesman Larry Crutchfield told The Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/1z1PWEX ). “It’s still a work in progress. It will be a couple days before it’s cleaned up.”

Though the cow is not blocking hikers’ passage through the canyon, monument staff put up signs at the Dry Fork trailhead warning of the stench.

Fences have been installed to keep cows out of slot canyons, but they often are damaged during storms. Monument officials believe the cow entered through a damaged section.

The monument is developing new protocols for dealing with trapped livestock to avoid a repeat.

The problem is rare but does occur once or twice a year, according to Mary O’Brien of the Grand Canyon Trust. She recommends efforts such as putting signs at some canyon entrances that tell people how to avoid sending a cow deeper into a canyon and whom to contact if visitors see a trapped cow.

“In the past, when a cow has gotten stuck in a canyon and the permittee can’t get it to turn around and come out, the permittee has shot the cow, butchered it, and carried pieces out to where they could be burned,” she wrote in an email.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com

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