We’re only one day removed from the now infamous #BisonGate scandal but it doesn’t look like the world is ready to let this one die just yet. Which I’m kind of into because there is a seeming unending stream of idiots running around national parks. They’re like STD’s in a strip joint. No matter how much no one wants them, they’re impossible to get rid of. Thankfully, Redditor You_Got_Litt_Up went to Reddit to ask people what some of the stupidest things they’ve seen at people do at a national park are and, to me, it seems like a lot of people need to learn about the dangers of picking up bears.
When I worked in Idaho’s River of No Return Wilderness, we’d regularly encounter people who had watched too much Discovery Channel and decided to abandon civilization and “live off the land”.
Which isn’t at all impossible–a decent fly fisherman or a halfway good shot can easily shoot or catch all the fish and game they care to eat. In fact, the vast majority of our visitors were there to shoot elk or catch trout, and they did well.
But these survivalist types never came prepared with a rod or a gun or even a tent. No. They were going to build a thatch shelter and whittle a spear and go stab an elk, or something.
Of course, if anyone had ever succeeded in this, it would be illegal on a number of levels. (can’t camp for more than 14 days in a site, can’t stab an elk without a hunting license, &c). But it never came up–after a couple days, they’d get bored and cold and hungry and walk back out the way they’d come in.
So this is my favourite tourist story and I hope I’m not too late to tell it.
I was in a national park at the visitor’s center. Suddenly, there’s this huge commotion and a lot of screaming from the lobby.
I head over to find an entire tourist family crying and screaming and the park staff trying their best to manage the situation. Then the air shifts and it hits me.
They had applied a liberal amount of BEAR SPRAY all over themselves and the entire lobby. Apparently, they had mistaken the wording of “bear repellent” and had assumed it was to be used like mosquito repellent.
I once had a lady get really mad at me because “The trees here look just like the ones in my backyard!”
That’s…not my fault.
Not a ranger, but I was a firefighter on a national forest. I saw people trying to take selfies with a bear.
There was a story in the paper asking rangers about their beat stories: a german couple ask the ranger where they can see bears. The ranger explains all of the dangers and then tells them what area to go to. When they return they excitedly show the ranger pictures of them holding a bear cub. How they are not dead is a mystery.
I was a back country trail worker for several years in Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park. We usually had our tents set up a couple miles from a back country ranger station and we’d hang out with them on the weekends. Most of the people I saw/dealt with were not day hikers, they would usually be planning on being out in the wilderness for a week or more. I still can’t really believe the insanely stupid shit people would do out there, we were constantly having to get on the radio to report people to the closest back country ranger. I have a shit ton of examples, but I’ll just list a couple.
- Ran into a group of about 4 people who were trying to hike to Mt. Whitney and back in two-three days (around 70-80 miles round trip from where they started) and they only brought cliff bars and a space blanket. They ended up getting chased down by the nearby ranger and escorted out of the back country.
- A group of boy scouts decided they wanted to try to build a raft and started sawing away at young trees. That is suuuuuuper illegal. I think after they were caught they got fined something like $3000 per tree, I can’t remember exactly.
- My boss stumbled upon two hikers who, while fly fishing at night, accidentally hooked a bat and were trying to kill it. My boss ran up to them, chewed them out, and easily unhooked the bat and let it fly off.
- Caught a couple of douchey “bros” trying to feed toothpaste to a bear by hand. I was too confused to be pissed, just told them to cut it out.
Not a park ranger, but in Shark Valley at the Everglades National Park, every now and then some idiots will try to steal baby gators.
This is utterly stupid, not only for the fact that they grow up to be full size gators, but because when the little gators feel threatened, they cry, which attracts all the adult mama gators in the area. Which ends up being a huge problem since its literally in the middle of the Everglades and swarming with gators.
Not a ranger, but even as a seven year old I figured it must be a bad idea for my mother to feed chocolate chip cookies to the bears, by hand.
I’m a ranger in an urban area. We were having a big event at one of our parks. My partner and I needed to grab more trash bags so we made our way to the comfort station which has bathrooms and a utility closet. My partner is directly in front of me and as he pushes the door to the ultility closet open and stops dead. I can see over his shoulder and there is a lady squatting over the floor and peeing everywhere. The lady yelled “EXCUSE ME” and my partner was so caught off guard that he apologized and closed the door. I had tears coming from my eyes because I was laughing so hard. There is no way this room could be mistaken for a bathroom, we keep leaf blowers, rakes, tools, etc in there. We both just kind of stood there, dumbfounded with our mouths open until the lady walked out past us without saying a word.
Earlier this week I was on a geological fossil tour with Ranger Ron at the Grand Caynon National Park. The talk started at the Bright Angel Trail is a hiking trail located at the top of the caynon 4380 ft above the colorodo river and has hundreds of people walking or riding on mule to the camp below. Now this is not leasure hike, often you have only a few feet of path between you and pending death and 100% of the people on this trail are either on their way up or on their way down from the day before as it is impossible to make it up and back in the same day. Anyways, a testosterone filled hooligan felt like he would see how strong he was at the top of the trail. He picked up a rock the size of his head and dropped it on the hundreds of hikers and mule riders below. You you see every hiker see there impending death as this rock bounced of the canyon wall. Eventually about 1000′ below it landed 2′ from a hiker who likely is thanking the gods right now. Ranger Ron saw this and started yelling at this person like it he was the voice of God from a couple hundred feet away- needless to say this coward did not stay around to find out what would Ranger Ron caught up to him on the Canyon Rim. I have never seen a ranger that angry in my entire life and hope to never see something like that again.
Aussie here, not a park ranger but have had many experiences with the bush and tourists, my best 3 are
1) Fucking tourists following around a pack of emus and not listening to or reading any of the hundreds of warnings that emus will fuck the shit out of your ass 2) Going walking off trails at Kakadu National Park (saltie croc heaven and literal fucktons of deadly animals 3) Tourists hanging their arms out of croc tour boats, risking losing an arm or a life
Not a park ranger, but I was in South Africa at the Cape of Good Hope. Now, if you’ve ever been there, you know that the baboons are seriously fucking dangerous. You do not fuck with the goddamn baboons. There are signs all over the place, do not feed the baboons, do not approach the baboons, do not carry any sort of food anywhere on your person because the baboons will fucking maul you, all that. And they are not kidding; both myself and my mother were ambushed by fucking baboons hoping we had food in our bags (we didn’t).
And then we came around a corner of the path and found a group of tourists sitting with a baboon (it had sat down on one of the low stone walls lining the paths) and taking photos with it. Like, sitting right beside this animal, like you’d sit for a celebrity photo-op, so their friends could get pictures. One of the guys even tried to put his arm around it, and they all laughed when the baboon smacked his hand away. I don’t think any of them had any concept of just what kind of damage a primate of that size can do to a man.
During a whale watch on a boat in a marine sanctuary I had a guy ask me what the elevation was. Then I had a woman ask me how we get the whales in the lake, she thought it was a lake cause when she drove around the island the water was always on the right side. So many more. People get stupid on vacation.
Probably has to be the guy who got out of his car during a safari to take pictures of some lions and then ended up getting mauled
Not a park ranger but The meth head who burned down a 2,500 year old cypress tree.
No better way to close than with meth. While I got the majority of the good ones, you can head over to Reddit yourself to read some of the ones I’m not allowed to include. (Hint: there’s one about a dude getting kicked in the chest so hard that his guts fly out. It’s bananas.)