The major reasons for the increase in National Park visitors breaking rules by getting too close to the wildlife and disturbing the integrity of the parks in other ways appear to be…selfies, selfies, selfies, and too many morons.
I may be over-simplifying, but not much. From a CBS report:
Record visitor numbers at the nation’s first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone’s storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.
Law enforcement records obtained by The Associated Press suggest such problems are on the rise at the park, offering a stark illustration of the pressures facing some of America’s most treasured lands as the National Park Service .From Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon of Arizona, major parks are grappling with illegal camping, vandalism, theft of resources, wildlife harassment and other visitor misbehavior, according to the records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
I think my assessment is fair, especially since morons and selfies go together, as the song says, like a horse and carriage. In Florida, for example, officials are seeking an Orlando woman seen on a social media video holding a sea turtle and shining a light on others. Shining lights at sea turtle hatchlings can cause them to fatally mistake the light for the moon, which guides them to the ocean.
The blonde woman seen in the video picking up one of the hatchlings, posing with it momentarily and putting it back down in the sand has been identified as one Stephanie Marie Rushing, 24, Moron. Handling sea turtles is a violation of federal law, so Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators say they would like to ask her “if she knew what she did was possibly illegal.” Boy, they must really think she’s a moron! I can’t wait to find out if she says “yes.” Interfering with sea turtles is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
I don’t know how we should deal with this problem. Most of the abuse of wildlife takes place far away from officials, and the only episodes we learn about are when photos and videos surface on the web. Ban selfies? Ban cell phones? Ban morons? Find ways to stop raising narcissists and nature-lovers with no respect or regard for nature? Stop allowing people into the National Parks? I’m at a loss.