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Wildlife Stories
 

 
 
A visitor to Glacier National Park in Montana lost his car keys while
attempting to lure a ground squirrel by dangling the keys out in front of
the critter.  The squirrel grabbed the keys and ran down a hole with them.
The keys were never retrieved, a ranger cited the man for harassment of
wildlife, and a locksmith was called to make new car keys.

.... putting our loved ones at risk for a photo

In May of 1994, Tony Moore, 43, of Marietta, Georgia, was gored and
seriously injured by a large male bison in Yellowstone, next to the Lake
Hotel.  Moore and a friend had approached to within 15 feet of the bison to
have their pictures taken. While they were standing with their backs to the
animal, it charged.  Moore's companion escaped, but Moore received a severe
puncture wound in his right thigh and was taken by ambulance to a hospital
in Jackson for treatment.

.... watching for falling rocks

A visitor setting up camp at Lake Eleanor in Yosemite National Park hit
herself on the head with a rock while trying to string up her food to
protect it from bears.

.... requesting assistance

In 1994, a woman visiting from the Bay Area embarked on a solo hike to the
summit of El Capitan in Yosemite. When she became lost and saw a storm
brewing, she called 911 from her cellular phone and asked to be rescued.  A
helicopter found her barely off the trail and one-fourth to half a mile from
the top of El Cap. When the 'copter lifted off and the woman saw how close
she was to her summit goal, she asked the crew to set her down on top. When
the crew declined, she threatened to sue them for kidnapping.

... caring for the creatures

A woman, appearing rather distraught, came into the visitor center at
Redwood National Park in California to report that she had seen several
Irish setters lying along the edge of the highway and she feared they were
dead or injured.  Rangers explained to her that these were pieces of redwood
bark that had fallen off logging trucks.

.... asking for directions

Darryl Stone, now superintendent at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in
St. Louis, remembered working the entrance station at Yosemite when a woman
drove up and asked, "Which way are the geysers?" Ranger Stone directed her
to continue 1,000 miles further to Yellowstone and told her there were no
geysers at Yosemite. "Yes, there are," she said. "I have a friend who saw
them."  Stone and the woman went round and round several times before she
left, insisting that  there were geysers at Yosemite. Later she wrote a
letter to the chief ranger complaining that Stone had refused to provide her
with the information she wanted.

.... back-seat driving, as always

When an elderly couple stopped to film some bears at Dunraven Pass in
Yellowstone, a young bear crawled into their car searching for food.  Unable
to make the bear leave, the exasperated (but well-dressed) couple drove
about 17 miles to the ranger station at Canyon Village with the bear in the
backseat. When the husband got out to report the incident, the bear hopped
over into the front seat so that investigating rangers found the woman in
the passenger seat and the bear behind the wheel.

.... all tuckered out from our day hikes

In 1993 a woman called 911 from the top of Half Dome using her cellular
phone.  According to dispatch, she reported: "Well, I'm at the top and I'm
really tired." The answering ranger asked if she felt sick. "No," she said,
"I'm just really tired and I want my friends to drive to the base and pick
me up."The dispatcher explained that she would have to hike down the trail
she had ascended. The visitor replied, "But you don't understand, I'm really
tired."  What happened next?   "It turned out we got really lucky," the
ranger said,"her phone battery died."

... taking mementos home with us

Each year visitors to Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona pocket an
estimated 12 tons of petrified wood to take home (despite numerous warnings
not to take wood and the fact that this criminal violation carries a minimum
fine of $275). Some years back, several female foreign visitors, clad only
in bikinis, were observed hiding wood in their garments.  Another time,
rangers received a report that a man had put a large piece of wood in his
car. Upon searching his vehicle, they found a 40-pound piece of petrified
wood in his trunk. According to rangers, this visitor said he didn't know
how it got there. "My four-year-old son must have put it in there," the man
said.

.... ever alert to terrorism

A group of European visitors came into the Wawona ranger station in Yosemite
National Park and said, "Our car is parked at the trail head and it's been
blown up by terrorists." Though rangers expressed some doubt, the visitors
insisted that a bomb had exploded in their car and that they could see
powder residue from the explosives. Investigating rangers indeed found that
a door had been torn off and a powder-like substance--pancake flour--was
strewn about the car."They were quite embarrassed when we showed them the
bear prints," the ranger said.

... ignoring the sage advice of rangers

A camper at Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park decided to take a dip
in the lake with her dog despite signs saying "No
swimming--Danger--Alligators."She swam to an island about 75 yards from the
shore, then saw some alligators and refused to swim back. "Didn't you see
the signs?" asked the ranger who retrieved her in a canoe. "Sure," she said,
"but I didn't think they applied to me."
 
 

"Park incidents were compiled by writer Debra Shore, a frequent contributor
to Outside.

"What time do they let the animals out in the park?"  --Visitor at Denali
National Park

"Why did the Indians only build ruins?"  --Visitor at the Grand Canyon

"What is your best parking area?"  --Visitor at Zion National Park

"Where's the road to the summit?"  --Visitor at Mount Rainier National Park

"Don't you think the polluted sky makes a much prettier sunset?" --Visitor
at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Grand Canyon National Park:

Was this man-made?
Do you light it up at night?
I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom--where is it?
Is the mule train air-conditioned?
So where are the faces of the presidents?

Everglades National Park:

Are the alligators real?
Are the baby alligators for sale?
Where are all the rides?
What time does the two o'clock bus leave?

Mesa Verde National Park:

Did people build this, or did Indians?
Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
What did they worship in the kivas--their own made-up religion?
Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?

Carlsbad Caverns National Park:

How much of the cave is underground?
So what's in the unexplored part of the cave?
Does it ever rain in here?
How many Ping-Pong balls would it take to fill this up?
So what is this--just a hole in the ground?

Yosemite National Park:

Where are the cages for the animals?
What time of year do you turn on Yosemite Falls?
What happened to the other half of Half Dome?
Can I get my picture taken with the carving of President Clinton?

Denali National Park:

What time do you feed the bears?
What's so wonderful about Wonder Lake?
Can you show me where yeti lives?
How often do you mow the tundra?
How much does Mount McKinley weigh?

Yellowstone National Park:

Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
How do you turn it on?
When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
We had no trouble finding the park entrances, but where are the exits?