Inspiration Point: Report On Raven Issues GCNP

©George Jacobi 2016

Chapter 1

May 27, 2016 Interpretation Division Briefing                                
(repeated from March 14)

Resource Specialist Patricia Miller reported that a visitor told her the following story:    
           Early one morning he was driving on Market Plaza Road when he came upon the remains of a Mule Deer being consumed by Ravens. There was already very little left of the animal. The visitor honked his horn to scare away the feeding birds, some of which were in the way of his vehicle. Initially they paid no attention. Upon continued honking, though, half of the Ravens (he estimated a dozen) flew up onto his vehicle, screaming and cawing and apparently trying to break the windshield with their beaks and 4 ½ foot wings. The other half of the birds looked, but stayed on the dead deer.
          Feeling genuinely threatened, he backed up quickly and accelerated around the deer remains using the opposite side of the road, outrunning the Ravens that had ‘attacked’ him.                               
          This report was filed at the time and initially ignored as unreliable; events of the past several months have caused a re-evaluation.

 June 13, 2016 – Seasonal Interpreter Duke Preston filed the following report:
          At approximately 3:45 PM, near the back of Verkamp’s Visitor Center a family was having a photograph of themselves taken by another visitor, a Mr. Jacques Kadden. Mr. Kadden was accompanied by his small dog Crisco, who was perched on the stone wall behind him. The family was all grouped at a corner of the wall so that Mr. Kadden could take their photograph with a canyon view behind them. During the photography process, Crisco remained on the wall while his leash became stretched out to its full length. 
          Three Ravens dove onto the scene. One flew directly into the leash between the man and pet, breaking it free from Mr. Kadden’s hand. Accounts differed as to whether the Raven actually yanked the leash with its feet. At the same moment, the other two birds smashed into the dog, taking it over the wall into empty space. A great commotion ensued in which descriptions from everyone there did not entirely match up, but active aggression by malevolent Ravens is a hallmark of each report.
          Not long after, visitors, including a distraught Mr. Kadden, peered over the wall and saw the dead Crisco on a ledge far below, being devoured by the three Ravens. This detail I can confirm, as I arrived not long after this severely disturbing incident.         

June 15, 2016 – Park Maintenance Worker Christopher Malis informed Law Enforcement Personnel this afternoon that after he loaded garbage from Desert View, he sat at a shaded nearby table to eat lunch, his usual Footlong Subway Meat Lover’s sandwich. He said he was “stalked” (his word) by 5 Ravens. According to Mr. Malis, they surrounded and herded him “like the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park” until he threw his sandwich at the nearest bird and ran to his truck.
          Mr. Malis explained that having worked at the Grand Canyon for many years, he is familiar with Ravens and shares Park workers respect for their intelligence, but this event was without parallel. He further states that while he was driving away, one of the Ravens flew alongside the cab for almost a mile and stared in at him with its “cold black eyes” before disappearing.

 July 6, 2016 Science Division Briefing – Resource Specialist Steven Stife is hereby ordered to begin an investigation and turn in a report for Grand Canyon National Park Law Enforcement Division by next week. If he finds any animals being eaten by Ravens, Ranger Stife will pay particular attention to the manner of death as best as he can determine it. While he is to question visitors about Raven behavior, he is not to reveal any information at this time. The same reticence is to be maintained henceforth by other personnel under we get to the bottom of this alarming situation. That will be all for now.


Chapter 2

July 15: THE GRAND CANYON VIEW: This previously published article is repeated here for clarity.

May 1, 2016 headline –                                                         

          When Maintenance workers showed up at the Town Dump to remove the corpses of the 73 Ravens, they found not a single dead bird. The Ravens had been presumed killed from ingesting unidentified pollutants leaching from the old schoolyard asphalt. Scientists from both the National Park and Northern Arizona University have no explanation for the disappearance. The town has legitimate concerns both about the present situation and the history of the playground where their children spent hours and hours, given the possibility that it was originally paved with fill from a uranium mine. Unrest has begun to grow in the community as we continue to wait for answers.

July 20, 2016Excerpt from Completed Report detailing the timeline of potential Uranium pollution turned in by GCNP Science Dept. Director R. Nott Weinstock:                                                  
          Public Library records indicate that the original Grand Canyon School recess area was, as suspected, paved using tailings from the abandoned Hopi Point Uranium Mine during the summer of 1962. The play-yard surface was replaced in 2005, and the old paving material was dumped on the ridge abutting the Town Dump on Rowe Well Road. When the 73 ‘deceased’ ravens were discovered in late April downstream from the Dump in the reclaimed water ditch, town and Park officials were informed and the consensus was to have Northern Arizona University investigate the ditch for radioactivity and any chemical pollutants. That report is still pending as of today’s date, although we have asked repeatedly that it be released. Since the supposedly dead ravens had disappeared the following morning, it would seem serious effort was in order. This has yet to take place.

July 22, 2016 Briefing – This excerpt is from the final Radioactivity research report from Director Weinstock during this evening’s public hearing –                                                         
          Quoting Resource Specialist Stife: The lab report confirms the presence of large pockets of radioactive material in the mine tailings. These appear to be significant enough to account for the death of the birds, as suggested. For details see page 12 of our report. In addition, there is present in the material several unknown isotopes which we have been unable to identify, and of which investigators have expressed grave concern” – At this point crowd noise made it impossible to hear the remaining part of the presentation. Ranger Stife and Director Weinstock quickly left the podium while Mayor Pagliaro attempted unsuccessfully to quiet the room. 
          Consideration is now being given to retrieving the dog remains for radioactivity investigation, if there are some bones still on the ledge below Verkamps. Let’s continue to keep this quiet for now, people.

July 22, 2016 excerpt – THE GRAND CANYON VIEW:                          
          Dear readers – we insert here for public record this comment, so far unsubstantiated, from a lab assistant at Northern Arizona University who wishes to remain anonymous:

          “I participated in the radioactivity tests last week and saw something that gave me great worry. There was a dead house fly in the chamber during the testing. No-one else noticed it.                           
          When I came back the following morning and opened the chamber for cleaning, a fly flew out and went right out the door. Further examination showed no dead fly in the test chamber anymore. I don’t want to start an alarm, but in light of the issues with the ravens, I thought the community should be made aware. In my opinion, further testing is strongly indicated.”


Chapter 3

July 24 2016 BriefingSeasonal Interpreter Duke Preston filed the following report:                                                                                          
          Several Interpretation Volunteers following their noses found the remains of a Bull Elk behind HQ yesterday morning alongside the paved walkway to the rim. The animal had been almost completely consumed. Maintenance was notified and removed the Elk before 8 AM, which minimized visitor concerns.                   
          Resource Specialist Miller inspected the scene shortly after, and found no evidence of Mountain Lion or Coyote tracks. Instead, the ground was covered with what she identified as Raven claw prints. A full grown Bull Elk being almost completely eaten by Ravens in one night is highly unusual. Given that there were no tracks whatsoever made by carnivorous mammals suggests a significant degree of cooperation by the flock of Ravens, perhaps even chasing away any larger carnivores. She stated that Ravens themselves acting as predators on a large mammal, instead of merely being scavengers, is also unprecedented behavior.                    
          Chief of Interpretation Terry Lee directed the staff to keep this information to themselves at present, but to continue asking visitors to be alert for odd animal behavior, and if asked, to mention climate change as a possible factor. She also will ask the Law Enforcement Division to increase readiness for potential problems.

THE GRAND CANYON VIEW Editorial July 25th, 2016

                                    ROLLING OUR EYES      

            Residents of Grand Canyon Village have been concerned for some time now about what some have characterized as the “Zombie Ravens”, due to the disappearance of 73 presumably dead birds from the Dump earlier in the year. This imaginative ‘sci-fi’ tale was dealt an amusing setback yesterday.                                                  
          Three separate citizen reports from Apartment Building #3 at Paiute Circle the night before described the sound of a great flock of birds beating their wings above the building around midnight, as well as a deep erratic rumbling which they interpreted as Raven ‘conversation’. Due to the recent incidents involving Ravens (which have been accurately reported in these pages, I might add) alarm has spread through the Village.                                  
          Upon interviewing every resident of Building #3, Officers responding to the call discovered two drones in the residence of Nicolas Julie. Engines and batteries of the drones were still warm. Mr. Julie then confessed to the prank and ranted at length about gullible people – while on his way to jail in Flagstaff.                             
           Though congratulations for imagination might be in order, this newspaper hopes that minds have been put at ease and life in this peaceful and beautiful community will finally get back to normal. Let’s lighten up. Enjoy the canyon. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

 News Release August 1, 2016: John Quist, Law Enforcement Division Chief, Grand Canyon National Park NPS –

                        FOR INTERNAL RELEASE ONLY

            People: To begin with, be assured the media will be notified by this office immediately following today’s Divisional Meeting with the Superintendent. All of YOU are instructed to follow Government protocol and make no comment whatsoever. Let me be absolutely clear – anyone found violating this directive will be terminated at once and face immediate legal ramifications. 
         The bodies of five hikers were discovered late yesterday approximately 1 ½ miles down Hermit’s Rest Trail. The identities of the deceased are as yet unknown. Due to the underused nature of the trail, the tragedy has remained secret, and the area has been closed to the public. It has been confirmed that the individuals were killed and partially eaten by what initial reports say are Ravens. So our worst fears are apparently beginning to come true.             
          The grim details are as follows: A Ranger on patrol discovered the bodies at 5AM, scattered across a wide area on and off the trail. It appeared that the individuals attempted to outrun and/or fight off the attacking birds. The remains of clothes were shredded and blown around. Each of the human remains was torn to pieces with many parts missing. Numerous slices and gouges covered what was left of each corpse. The eyes were missing from every face. In one case, the largest body part left was the feet, which had been protected from predation by hiking boots.                                
          The Ranger (who is now on medical leave, identity protected) also found two dead Ravens, which are being flown to the NAU lab for investigation as of this morning. I want everyone in this Division on duty now until further notice, armed and alert. Information and direction will follow shortly. P. S. – Call your families and tell them to stay indoors.


Chapter 4

August 13, 2016 Briefing (For Internal Release Only)        
– Seasonal Law Enforcement Officer Page Turner filed this report: 

            Late last night a young man named Seth Hurt showed up at LE HQ injured, carrying a dead Raven by the feet, and told the following story to Law Enforcement Officers. He had taken the Red Bus Line to Hopi Point to photograph the sunset, and stayed until he was the last person at the overlook. Just at nightfall he noticed a large flock of Ravens flying into what appeared to be a cave to his right (east). We know that this is the entrance to the abandoned Uranium mine from the sixties. Mr. Hurt attempted to take a photo but it was already too dark.                     
          At this moment the last return bus pulled into Hopi Point, and Mr. Hurt turned to the parking area to get on it. He explained that suddenly a single Raven swooped down between him and the bus and attacked him, slashing at his camera with its talons and at his face with its beak. While he ducked back under the Junipers, swinging back at the bird, the bus left. A Common Raven averages 2 feet in length with at least a 4 foot wingspan, so this type of encounter would be much like an attack by a flying wolverine. During the battle, young Mr. Hurt found himself with one of the Raven’s legs in his hand. He swung the bird against the Juniper trunk, which stunned it enough so he was able to repeat the maneuver until it stopped moving.         
          Though bleeding from the forehead and arms, he courageously picked up the dead bird and brought it back on the two mile walk to Grand Canyon Village in the dark.            
          You all understand what this means to our situation. The boy deserves a commendation, of course, but that would involve publicity that we cannot afford right now. Mr. Hurt and his family are on the way to the airport in Phoenix. The Raven has been taken to the lab. An investigation of the Hopi Point area is underway already and I’m sure you all agree that the time to act is upon us before things get any more out of control. Make sure all of you are here for the 5 PM briefing.                  

August 14, 2016 – THE GRAND CANYON VIEW:

            Grand Canyon Village dump will remain closed until further notice, according to the Mayor’s office. Arrangements have been made for residents to take their trash to the dumpsters at Visitor Center Parking Lot B.

August 17, 2016 – THE GRAND CANYON VIEW:

          Tourist and Seattle resident Quinn Michaels was interviewed today by this reporter about the unexplained explosion/landslide near Hopi Point the night before last. A Demolition Expert, Michaels said he just happened to be here now at Grand Canyon on vacation and volunteered his services to the Park to investigate and attempt to formulate an explanation for the event. Dr. Michaels, who has a Ph.D in Geology as part of his career, said his investigation had turned up no evidence to indicate anything other than a natural occurrence. Though happy to be of service, he refused further questions, explaining that he was on his way home.
          National Park Law Enforcement and Science personnel agreed. R. Weinstock of the Science Division reported that despite the loud sound, what occurred was a minor shift in geologic layers due to tectonic forces. Random as they appear to us, these events are going on all the time underground, mostly invisible and unheard, and should not worry residents or visitors as it is unlikely any similar event will ever occur in the vicinity. Weinstock thanked Dr. Michaels for his expertise and expressed how fortuitous it was that he was here at this time.