Humans Still Going Wild At National Parks
Photo courtesy Thinkstock
The National Park Service just recently enjoyed its centennial anniversary. Sadly, in 100 years, humans still haven’t learned how to conduct themselves in the wild.
The Associated Press reports on the startling lack of adherence to national park rules and procedures from visitors who continue to disturb the local wildlife. The report actually begins with a anecdote of a party that traipses dangerously close to a large elk, only to send the animal off running.
The simple pursuit of a grand picture meanders so close to disaster – as we have seen in the recent past.
Last June, a visitor walking too close to a bison at Yellowstone National Park was attacked. A month later, a woman who attempted to capture a selfie was flipped over by a looming bison. There have also been recent stories of gored visitors, euthanized bison caused by human interference and one visitor meeting their ultimate demise when walking beyond barriers posted at nearby thermals.
As the report states, these are hardly isolated incidents, because tourists hoping to embrace the beauty and grandeur of nature are tempting fate by breaking one rule after another.
The AP writes: “From Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior, according to the records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. In July alone, law enforcement rangers handled more than 11,000 incidents at the 10 most visited national parks.”
As the report states, visitor numbers are up, but so too are the amount of warnings being issued to people that continue to either meander into dangerous areas or get far too close to wildlife that is just that, wild.
And, as echoed in the report, the problem may be as simple as thousands of visitors seeing remarkable pictures on Instagram that show animals that appear close to the photographer.
Couple that with an atmosphere presented by the warm and inviting embrace of nature and you have human visitors who believe they can simply walk wherever they like and interact with animals they are confidant will peacefully wander nearby.
National Parks are immensely inviting, which is part of the charm and why so many enjoy them on an annual basis. But it’s that sentiment that is getting many in trouble or injured.
As we have all seen time and again, you just can’t take what an animal will do for granted.
The AP quotes Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk who states, "I can't tell you how many times I have to talk to people and say, 'Step back. There's a dangerous animal,' and they look at me like I have three heads.”
Sadly, at national parks around the country, it’s the humans that seemingly need to be trained.
More by Gabe Zaldivar
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