Officials at Grand Canyon National Park have issued a warning to visitors about the practice of leaving padlocks, or “love locks,” attached to fences. Discarded keys from these locks pose a risk to the critically endangered California condors that inhabit the area.
The act of leaving love locks as a symbol of love at scenic viewpoints is considered both littering and a form of graffiti, according to park officials.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, park officials wrote, “Love is strong, but it is not as strong as our bolt cutters,” emphasizing the park’s commitment to removing the locks.
After leaving the padlocks, people have been throwing the keys into the canyon. The shiny keys attract the curiosity of the California condors, who investigate them with their mouths. The birds, which are part of the vulture species, have a particular affinity for shiny objects such as wrappers, coins, and metal, including keys.
Unfortunately, the condors cannot digest the metal, leading to blockages that require medical intervention. Ingesting too much shiny material can be fatal for the birds.
Park officials urge visitors to refrain from contributing to these harmful practices and to educate others about the potential harm to wildlife. Objects are thrown from the rim of the canyon every day, so it is important to be mindful of the impact these actions can have on the environment and wildlife.