Feral Cattle, Pit Bulls Run Wild at Sand to Snow National Monument

"It's Jurassic Park," says one local of the California preserve's animal problem.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Hikers at Sand to Snow National Monument have to worry about more than the usual blisters: A large herd of feral cattle is roaming the area, threatening people and trampling vegetation. On top of that, a pack of pit bulls has been killing and eating the calfs and cows. 

“They are part of a herd of at least 150 that’s ripping up this monument and scaring the heck out of folks who cross paths with them,” Terry Anderson, a board member of the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, said of the cattle in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “They also can transmit disease to native bighorn sheep. So, they need to be removed—and I’m all for lethal removal. They don’t belong here.”

The area’s visitation has skyrocketed since President Obama named it a national monument in 2016; about 148,000 people visited the park last year. In addition, the monument hosts a 30-mile segment of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The cattle have already come into conflict with trail users; in February, Don Line, a volunteer for the Pacific Crest Trail Association, narrowly escaped being gored by a bull. The rugged area lacks cell phone reception in many places, which makes it difficult to contact emergency services.

State authorities unsuccessfully attempted to trap the dogs earlier this year. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management now say that they plan to meet with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians to come up with a plan to remove the animals. 

Trending on Backpacker