Humans in Yellowstone

Sierra Meissner, Reporter

     In 1892, Yellowstone was established as the first national park in the world. Since then, tourists have come from all around the country to visit the historic park. It’s popular for its wildlife, geysers, and hot springs. Over half of the geysers in the world are located in the park. 

One of the many waterfalls in the famous national park. Photo courtesy of Flickr

     However, because of human activity there have been many issues with the wildlife and the environment. Littering and pollution have always been an issue throughout the park, but recently it has gotten worse. People tend to leave trash in areas where it can be discovered and ingestested by wildlife. Specifically, the wolf and trout populations have decreased over the years due to humans and pollution.

     Boardwalks have been built for tourists so they can stay safe from the dangers that Yellowstone has, such as animals and boiling hot springs. Visitors are expected to stay on the boardwalks, though many have died after disregarding park mandates. There have been 21 incidents where people have fallen into the hot springs and burned to death. 

     Not only have humans put themselves in danger, they have also put the hot springs in danger. As the years go by, the hot springs have become less and less clear as tourists throw their trash in. . Additionally, coins and other metals make the water less clear and healthy.  

     Most of the time people follow the park’s rules and expectations. However, many people get excited around the wildlife and sometimes abuse the privilege of seeing it. Since Yellowstone was established, there have been many animal attacks throughout the park. 44 people have been injured and eight people have been killed by bears since the park has been open to visitors. In July 2011, a hiker was attacked and killed by a mother bear who was protecting her cubs. The hiker, Brian Matayoshi was hiking along the Hayden Valley trail when he spotted the bear and her cubs at a distance of several hundred yards.  After watching them for a while, Matayoshi began making his way back to the beginning of the trailhead but shortly after, he spotted the bear again.  This time, the bear noticed Matayoshi and began moving toward him, at which point he reacted by running and yelling.  The mother bear caught up to him and mauled him to death. Most incidents with bears happened because humans get too close and the bear feels threatened. 

     “If people want to continue visiting Yellowstone, they have to respect and take care of it.  When I last visited Yellowstone, I had the privilege to observe many species of wildlife and it would be a shame if humans ruined that privilege,” said Hellgate sophomore Birkelyn Labbe. 

     Overall human activity has negatively impacted the wildlife and the environment in Yellowstone.  Diseases have spread, animals have been hurt, and hot springs have begun to lose their colors.  Yellowstone has already started to limit the amount of visitors and tourists. If humans don’t work to keep Yellowstone National Park safe, the privilege of visiting will be taken away. These dangers can be avoided by following the park’s expectations and listening to guidelines.