Your Grand Canyon 'Love Locks' Are Killing Condors, the NPS Warns

The agency is telling everyone to stop putting up love locks in the name of the environment.

love lock
Photo by D. Pawlak, courtesy of NPS
Photo by D. Pawlak, courtesy of NPS

If you want to celebrate your love, the National Park Service suggests you do it somewhere other than one of the nation's most iconic natural wonders.

In a recent post shared on Facebook, the NPS addressed the issue with Grand Canyon's infamous “love locks.” Apparently, on top of being a form of crime, they also have been known to endanger one of the canyon's most iconic animal species, the condor.

"Love is strong, but it is not as strong as our bolt cutters," reads the post. "Padlocks left behind on fencing are called Love Locks. People think putting a lock on fencing at viewpoints is a great way to show love for another person. It's not. Leaving padlocks like this is littering and a form of graffiti. But because people will throw their padlock key into the canyon the scenario becomes worse and more dangerous specifically for a rare and endangered animal of the canyon."

The NPS then goes on to explain that condors, being curious animals, will be attracted by anything shiny—coins, wrappers, pieces of metal, keys, you name it. They will approach it and eat it, which is what is now happening with love lock keys that are being tossed into the canyon. Potentially, this could lead to the animal's death.

In the same post, the NPS shared images of an X-ray done to a condor who had ingested a key. "The X-ray image on this post is of the crop of a condor," the post reads. "You can see coins lodged in the digestive tract of the bird. This bird had to be operated on to clear the obstructions. If a condor ingests too many objects like this, it could die."

The solution to this is pretty simple. Of course you should love one another, but also love the environment and the protected species around you. In this case, that translates to refraining from putting up love locks all around. And most importantly, make sure you spread the word, too.

"Objects are thrown from the rim every day. Padlocks and trash are not anomalies limited to Grand Canyon," the NPS notes. "Do your part to not contribute to these bad habits and inform others of what can happen to the wildlife if these behaviors continue."

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.