By on May 17, 2016


160518TOU-1B_origWhat in the wide, wide world of sports is going on in the nation’s first national park? Celebrating 100 years of Yellowstone has started off with a bang. Already visitors have been observed approaching wildlife, petting wildlife and, finally, abducting wildlife. At what point has the park’s message—do not touch or involve yourself in any manner with the wild ecosystem—become unclear?

Last week’s rescue mission carried out by a father-son team from out of country on behalf of a “freezing” bison calf took the cake. Numerous national outlets picked up on the story thanks to a photo posted on the Facebook account of Karen Richardson of Victor, Idaho that showed a newborn bison being transported in the back of an SUV. It became an Internet sensation.

The story turned tragic when park officials made the decision to euthanize the animal after attempts to reintroduce it into the wild were unsuccessful. That launched a new set of social media outrage and additional national attention. Reaction posts mainly reflected disbelief in the “touron” behavior of the international visitors. Some came to the defense of the pair pointing out they honestly thought they were aiding a suffering animal.

Fresh from that obvious park violation came more news that yahoos from a Canadian travel and adventure group took it upon themselves to recreate Jesus’ walk on water by scooting across the Grand Prismatic Spring’s crust in order to selfie video themselves for Facebook, Instagram and YouTube posts.

Members of the group—Alexey Lyakh, Ryker Gamble, Justis Cooper and Parker Heuser—issued a formal apology Tuesday for their behavior after violent response included condemning statements like: “ignorant and narcissistic,” “attention whores,” and “Grade A certified idiots.”

“We would like to apologize to our community … [we] made the unfortunate error of leaving the pathway. We did not respect the protected environment we were exploring. Because we have disappointed people with our actions, we have taken down the footage filmed off of the boardwalk at Yellowstone. We have realized that what we did was not okay, and we want others to learn from our mistake. We got over zealous in our enthusiasm for this wonderful place…We realize that now…we managed to screw up,” the apology statement read.

The tourist bros added that they would donate $5,000 to the park as recompense for their actions. In addition to their unholy walk on the spring, one member is filmed running naked out onto the surface of a frozen Yellowstone lake where he is promptly warned by a park ranger to knock it off.

The news event went viral in cyberspace and was carried by local outlets including the Bozeman Chronicle and by the likes of national media including USA Today and Good Morning America. Both cases are still under investigation by park law enforcement.

Wyoming stoned

160518TOU-2_origIn another unrelated stoner move, USA Today has egg on its face after publishing a story on the very real concern of pot smuggling from the state of Colorado into nearby states. The issue is real; the supporting graphic image used by the national newspaper wasn’t.

USA Today included an erroneous map of the U.S., which clearly showed Wyoming as the state where marijuana is being illegally exported from, rather than Colorado.

We especially enjoyed Huffington Post’s coverage. Their headline read: “Holy Smokes! USA Today Doesn’t Know Where Colorado Is.” The lede was equally classic. “Weed recommend USA Today grab a map,” wrote HP’s Trends editor Jenna Amatulli.

“Geography is obviously VERY HARD for the Folks at USA Today,” wrote online poster Smart Dog.

Grizzly resurrection

160518TOU-3_origTodd Wilkinson’s headline for National Geographic was a magnificent eye-catcher.

“Famous Grizzly Bear ‘Back From the Dead’—With a New Cub,” Nat Geo wrote for Wilkinson’s coverage on bear 399 observed with one white-faced cub in tow by several photographers recently.

Bear 399 became an instant celebrity in 2006 when she appeared with her three cubs along the road in Grand Teton National Park. A year later, the famous sow was nearly destroyed by park officials after she and her triplets mauled a hiker. Officials spared the griz, deeming the bear behavior was excusable as a natural reaction of protecting her cubs and their food source.

The popular grizzly was immortalized by Jackson photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen in his coffee table book, Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek. “Every year she’s still with us is a miracle,” Mangelsen told Wilkinson. “This could be the last cub she ever has because she’s pretty old in bear years. Most bears don’t reach that age.”  PJH

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