Or perhaps stupid is not the right word.
I should start at the beginning. There have been a number of stories recently of what can only be called at best, ignorant actions in Yellowstone National Park. If you have not been there, Yellowstone is a marvel of nature. It is our nation’s first National Park, founded in 1872. I have been so fortunate as to have been able to spend a 3 week period there one Spring and a week there one winter. I can’t wait to go back.
It has astounding vistas, geysers, hot springs and wildlife. Lots and lots of wildlife. Part of the adventure of visiting the park is not knowing what animal you might see where. On my very first day in the park I saw bison, elk, deer, pelicans, swans, bald eagles, grizzly bears, fox, coyotes, wolves, moose and a yellow bellied marmot.
ON ONE SINGLE DAY’S VISIT.
It is my favorite National Park and I have been extremely fortunate in my life and have been able to visit quite a few parks. Our National Parks are very special places and they are there for us to visit and enjoy but for them to exist for us now and for generations in the future there have to be rules. For our safety while visiting the Parks there have to be rules. Those rules are clearly listed ALL OVER THE PARKS. In every park I have visited you could not escape the rules.
In Yellowstone one of the biggest rules is stay away from the wildlife. Bison might look docile but they can weigh upwards of 2,000 pounds, they have horns and despite how slow and lumbering they look they can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour. Recently people visiting Yellowstone have done some incredibly stupid things around the bison including taking selfies next to them, petting them and most recently “rescuing” a bison calf that tourists thought was cold and hungry.
The selfie takers were gored, the woman who pet the bison was exceptionally lucky in that she didn’t get gored, and the “rescued” calf had to be put down because when the Park Service tried to return it to the herd it was rejected. All of these actions were against the rules and most of them resulted in some manner or harm to human or beast. All could have been avoided.
The second biggest rule is to stay on the walkways. Their purpose is to keep people from walking into hot springs or from damaging ecologically fragile areas. Recently a quartet of young men from Canada took it upon themselves to walk upon the Grand Prismatic Spring for the sake of a photo as part of their grand tour of the United States. The damage they did will take years for nature to repair. All for the sake of a photograph.
I don’t know if it’s stupidity, hubris or entitlement that has visitors to Yellowstone acting this way. I don’t know if it’s the need to insert themselves into the environment they are visiting instead of just enjoying the nature in front of them. But whatever it is I implore anyone visiting Yellowstone or any National Park or Monument to please LEAVE YOUR STUPID AT HOME and follow the rules. They are there for a reason. That reason is not to curtail your enjoyment but rather to protect you and the environment. If these behaviors continue more people and animals are going to get hurt and the rules are only going to get more restrictive.
Common sense people. We all are supposed to have some – so use it.
I realize I generally keep things light and happy here but I love my adopted state and am horrified but what has been going on in its jewel of a park. I recognize that Montana only holds one tiny corner of Yellowstone but it’s a place I love and revere. It’s a place of extraordinary beauty and peace and should be respected.