Once upon a time, some folks thought it would be a good idea to cross-breed a buffalo with a domestic cow. The cross-breeding, resulting in a new hybrid species dubbed “beefalo,” was supposed to occur under a managed breeding program that would help the beef industry create more, well, beef with fewer animals and thereby somehow increase production and efficiency. From a business perspective, it might have seemed like a good idea at the time. Nobody planned for what might happen when the beefalo went on the lam.

grand canyon in danger from beefalo

The beefalo have been on the loose for some time, and they’ve been quite busy causing a lot of environmental damage wherever they may roam. Of the most concern presently is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where an estimated 600 beefalo have taken up residence. That may not seem like a huge number, but keep in mind that these beasts themselves are quite massive, and they are living in a herd in what is currently the most sensitive region of the Grand Canyon.

The enormous animals can consume up to 10 gallons of water in one stop, which means they can easily drain a watering hole that lots of other creatures depend on to survive. According to environmental managers in the area, the beefalo problem is a real one. What’s the answer? Nobody knows. A cull, or controlled kill, has been suggested, but the course of action hasn’t been agreed upon at this time. The environmental damage caused by these furry giants is a more dire concern, as the beefalo drink up the water and leave their dense beefalo “patties” to compact the soil around watering holes, causing even more problems for other animals and plants.

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Environmentalists are concerned that the presence of the beefalo herds, now essentially considered wild, will push out other species and cause even further disruption to the delicate eco-system of a region that has already put up with enough abuse from Mother Nature. Attempts to control or corral the beefalo have failed miserably; fences erected to manage the beefalo’s path of destruction have been demolished by the huge hungry beasts. It seems that the beefalo are not particularly concerned with what environmentalists want them to do.

Although the question of what to do with the beefalo remains unanswered at this time, it’s worthwhile to spend a moment refreshing ourselves on what got us into this mess in the first place. If your desire for a cheaper hamburger could lead directly to the destruction of one of the seven wonders of the world, maybe it’s time to order from a different section of the menu.

Via BBC

Images via Shutterstock (1, 2)