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How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

Bucks County...
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How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

After reading about the recent bison goring of the man from Thailand in Mammoth and thermal burns suffered by the Utah man on Solitary Geyser trail, I wondered how you who regularly visit Yellowstone respond when you witness an "accident-waiting-to-happen". Have any of you ever had altercations with people who ignore signs and warnings if you've spoken up and warned them? It's sort of stressful to me to think about watching foolish behavior with animals or thermal features that's impossible to ignore, knowing that someone could be seriously injured or even killed. I don't think I could stand by and not at least shout warnings to people, but wonder if I should get involved in case the person could end up turning on ME!

Worcester...
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1. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

I told a couple and their probably 10 year old daughter to back off from an elk with a yearling calf. Mama was getting nervous. They stopped, but seemed cranky about it. I'm about as far from imposing as it gets, but being nice goes a long way.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

I was once horrified to see a big family group posing for a photo right on the edge of the Grand Canyon (the one in AZ, not YNP). Grandma and the toddlers and all. I made hand motions because nobody seemed to speak English. Sure hope they didn't think they were at Disney World!

Billings, Montana
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3. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

It is really hard to know what to do because you don't know what the person you're trying to "warn" will do. there are times when I've said something and there are times when I keep my mouth closed.

Last summer we were watching a griz with two cubs in Hayden Valley that were really close to the road. They were moving towards the road. While there were people too close the bears were being very tolerant and relaxed in their behaviors. As they got closer to the road it was obvious that they wanted to cross but there were too many people blocking their way. Their body language changed and it was obvious that they were starting to get nervous. I told quite a few people that it was time to move back because she wanted to cross the road. People just looked at me like I was dumb. Finally I told my grandson in a stern voice that we were leaving because I didn't want to be there when she charged them because they were not giving her a space to cross the road. And we backed off. A few people left with us but most stayed. When we got to a decent distance to start watching again I knew that she was amping up for a bluff charge. Just as I said it to my grandson sure enough she did. Boy did people move then.......it never should have gotten to that point. And sadly it really didn't make an impact because as soon as she cross the road the people started getting close to them again.

Sadly some people don't even listen to the rangers when they are doing "crowd control" at an animal jam.....most of them are not going to listen to some other tourist. I call it the "entitlement philosophy".....some people feel that they are entitiled to do whatever they want no matter what impact their actions may have on the animals or other people.

I have the park's non-emergency number entered in my cell phone but lots of time there is no cell coverage. I try not to stay at a place where I see people starting to do unsafe things. I've waved down rangers to report unsafe situations and I have driven to the nearest ranger station to report unsafe situations too. Unfortunately, there are way too few rangers and law enforcement officers and the parks is just way too big for them to adequately supervise everything.

Deb

Driggs, Idaho
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4. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

Ahh .. I would say something if you feel like you are not going to be confrontational. If they are right next to you and start to do something stupid, I usually say something and let them make their own decision. I had to say something to the guy would wanted to hike down the trail to take a pic of a grizzly this past weekend, and his wife enforced my response in a positive way.

When I see someone being really stupid and it is in a huge group of people, I get annoyed, but realize they made their own decision and frankly, someone else has probably already yelled something or they know already and they are making their own bed. Of course if it was a life or death decision I would intervene. The problem w/bison, as we have seen, is that they are more often docile than not, so it gives folks a certain false comfort level. We inevitably have the goring once a year and perhaps its sets in for a short time for people that want to pay attention to it. The bottom line is they are animals, wild at that, and I think that any animal deserves its own space. I instill that in my 4 year old with domestic dogs much less wild animals.

Most likely they know they are being disrespectful to the animal (or land when it comes to going off trail) and whether or not they understand English is usually not the problem b/c the signs are very visual as are the information they receive when they arrive. (Signs are people getting thrown by bison, falling into a thermal etc.).

Sometimes people aren't aware and they appreciate it or sometimes they don't care and feel like you are being a know it all.

I feel a certain sense of protectiveness about this area since I live in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Yet, I'm no biologist. Scholar, ranger, law enforcement, or for that matter a local in the eyes of the folks that have lived here all their lives (I've been here 10 years).

Use your gut instinct as to how to handle. I would hope a tourist being scolded by another tourist would only injur their ego and they wouldn't come after you personally. I have yet to hear about that one, and if it did come to that - I'm sure others would back you up in a verbal disagreement. After all, is always "that one guy(or girl)." Right?

Maybe folks are so excited to come out they don't educate themselves ahead of time.

Billings, Montana
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5. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

I always find it interesting that people will tell their children not to go near a "strange dog because it might bite" but have no problem with having them stand near a bison or elk to get their picture taken. Most people would not climb over a fence to go stand next to a cow or bull in a pasture by they think it's ok to get out of their car and walk over to a bison, elk, or bear inside the park. I never have understood that mentality.

I am in awe every year that more people are not hurt or killed. It's a miracle that more aren't.

Deb

6. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

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Driggs, Idaho
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7. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

Ok, so while we are on this thread -

This weekend, after leaving 7 Mile Hole behind, I ended up doing a short 3 mile hike around Ice Lake to exit at Wolf Lake and walk 1/3rd of the mile up the Norris Canyon Road to Ice Lake Parking at the end. As I walked by a mini van pulled over, a little boy (not so little - probably 12), said "Hi" and threw the rest of his sandwich out of the door on to the road. Nice. I said, without stopping, "That's not nice, it will probably attract wildlife. You should pick that up." I continued on, but didn't enforce that it be done. I educated. I'm sure waiting to see if it would be done would be ridiculous and over the top and only make me angry. OHHHH and the best is ..... this is after I encounted THREE bear cans at Little Gibbon Falls a mile into the Wolf TH. So someone took the time to hike a mile in, drink beer, and walk out. I adopted my husband's behavior in those occassions and packed it out. As much as it grosses me out to pick up someone's trash, it was the right thing to do. WHO DOES THAT? Ughh.

P.S. I should reference that they were empty beer cans. Full beer cans would have been quite a score, although I'd have to wonder what happened to the orginal owners lol.

Edited: 01 August 2012, 03:02
8. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

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Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

It is not just Yellowstone where people don't use their common sense- it is just about every national park that either has wildlife or cliffs, rocks, canyons and water features.

I've seen crazy behavior like others along the rim of the Grand Canyon, in Glacier, RMNP, and even this past weekend in the GSMNP in TN. There were two major bear jams and people were running down the road with cameras and stopping their cars in the middle of the road- thank goodness the park rangers were there!!

Philadelphia...
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10. Re: How to handle dumb tourist behavior?

Oh, the stupidity of people! Though it happens in most national parks, Yellowstone seems to bring out the worst in folks. People seem to feel that they're in a petting zoo or something.

I don't always comment to stupid people about their behavoir around wild animals, but there was one situation involving a herd of bison.

There was a bison jam and the majority of folks were wise enough to remain in the their cars to observe them. Everyone except this un-wise woman who insisted she had to get a close photo of the bison. My family and I watched as she walked closer and closer - all thinking that she was surely going to stop any second. Nope! Onwards she marched. Meanwhile, the dominant male bison was standing there watching her. At first he seemed fairly calm, but as she got closer and closer you could see he wasn't amused and was ready to act. It was at this point that I rolled my window down, pointed to the male bison and said, "Hey, lady...do you see that bison standing over there? Well, he's the kingpin of the herd and he's been watching you. He's not happy with how close you're getting. If you don't want to be tossed across the street or have a horn embedded in your gut, it would be wise to back away NOW!" She put her camera down, her eyes got big and she heeded my warning (thankfully).