Monday, 12 September 2016

Record tourism in national parks comes with increasing threats – antsy humans

Yellowstone and other major parks grapple with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other misbehavior from visitors

Associated Press in Yellowstone national park, Wyoming
Sunday 28 August 201617.31 BSTLast modified on Sunday 28 August 201618.45 BST

On the edge of a meadow in Yellowstone national park, tourist John Gleason crept through the grass, four small children close behind, inching toward a bull elk with antlers like small trees.

“They’re going to give me a heart attack,” said Gleason’s mother-in-law, Barbara Henry, as the group came within about a dozen yards of the massive animal.

The elk’s ears pricked up, and it eyed the children and Washington state man before leaping up a hillside. Other tourists – likewise ignoring rules to keep 25 yards from wildlife – picked up the pursuit, snapping pictures and forcing the animal into headlong retreat.

Record visitor numbers at the nation’s first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone’s storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.

Law enforcement records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request suggest such problems are on the rise, offering a stark illustration of the pressures facing some of America’s most treasured lands as theNational Park Service marks its 100th anniversary.

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