Yellowstone is asking park visitors to take the Safe Selfie pledge this year because of the unlawful and dangerous behavior of too many folks last year.
Yellowstone National Park has had a rash of foolish, dangerous and even unlawful behavior by tourists in recent years. Some of those behaviors have even resulted in the deaths of a few people. As a result, the park has instituted a Safe Selfie policy: a pledge that it is asking all visitors to take.
The Safe Selfie or Yellowstone Pledge is is an attempt to increase awareness of park rules and guidelines that are designed to keep both humans and wildlife safe and maintain the integrity and natural beauty of the park.
A combination of events, including bison attacks, close encounters with grizzly bears and other potentially dangerous wildlife, desecration of thermal pools, and other incidents of safety rules and signs being ignored, have spurred park officials to try to reinforce proper park etiquette among the over four million people who visit the park annually.
"It stems from negative behavior," said Yellowstone public affairs specialist Morgan Warthin. "People are getting way too close to wildlife."
Visitors will be made aware of the policy and encouraged to take the pledge as they enter the park. With such common-sense guidelines as obeying speed limits, not feeding the animals, staying in your car during wildlife-caused traffic jams, staying on boardwalks in thermal springs areas, and reporting violations, the pledge is heralded as "a personal promise you can make to yourself and the park."
Part of the pledge includes maintaining a safe distance from wild animals when taking selfies: 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from other wildlife.
The theme is to "Take the pledge. Tell a friend. Protect the park."
When the National Park Service encouraged people to visit the country's national parks, they probably did not anticipate the amount of stupid and dangerous behavior that many would engage in, or the problems that would arise because of such recklessness. They hope to be better prepared and more vigilant this year.
"We anticipate visitation to either continue to increase or remain at the 4.2-million level," Warthin said. "I'm so hopeful this year it's going to be all good."
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