Millions of people travel the world every year — many of them to places of historic importance and to get close to Mother Nature.
However, people’s love for traveling sometimes has disastrous consequence for the places they visit as well as the beings inhabiting those lands.
They don’t follow rules. They touch and scratch, pee and poop, litter and even carve their initials on ancient statues, walls, rocks and trees.
In 2015, more than 307 million recreation seekers visited national parks in the United States — and many of them, like many before them, left lasting signs of destruction behind them.
The fate of national parks is no different.
According to research by the Associated Press, problems are on the rise at the Yellowstone National Park.
“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.”
“In July alone, law enforcement rangers handled more than 11,000 incidents at the 10 most visited national parks.”
In May, this year, a father and son put a bison calf in the back of their car and drove it to rangers, believing it was cold and needed help. They ended up doing more damage than good — the calf had to be euthanized as it failed to re-integrate into the herd.
The very next month a Chinese man was fined $1,000 for walking off a trail to collect water from a hot spring, believing it to have medicinal properties.
A group of Canadian tourists dipped their hands into the Great Prismatic Springs, upsetting the bacteria that create its many-hued water.
And who can forget the great “artist” who vandalized no less than seven parks with graffiti then shared images on social media.
Tourists to national parks need to get it together, or we won't have another century of wildlife, biodiversity and preserved open space to celebrate.