A tourist was fined $1,000 by officials at Yellowstone National Park for leaving a walkway and collecting thermal water—just a week after a man fell into a hot spring and died.
The park said a “Chinese national was fined” for walking off the boardwalk in the Mammoth Hot Springs thermal area on Tuesday, according to a statement. The park said a witness claimed the individual went into the terrace formations and collected thermal water, while breaking through “the fragile travertine crust,” which is a kind of limestone formed and deposited by mineral springs, or hot springs.
The individual told park officials he didn’t read the safety information given to him at the park’s entrance, and he also admitted to collecting hot springs water.
He is scheduled to appear in court at the Yellowstone Justice Center Court.
“Regulations to stay on designated trails and boardwalks in thermal areas are for visitor safety and the safety of the exceptional park natural resources. Without visitor cooperation, park natural wonders will continue to be damaged and more individuals may be injured or killed. It is a violation of federal regulations to collect any park resources,” the park stated.
The Yellowstone hot springs waters can get quite warm, with the Mammoth Hot Springs waters reaching 161 degrees Fahrenheit.
Earlier this month, 23-year-old Colin Nathaniel Scott of Portland slipped on gravel and fell into extremely hot, acidic water after he left the boardwalk. Park officials haven’t recovered his body, and a rescue effort was called off because the area is too dangerous.
“We extend our sympathy to the Scott family,” park superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement at the time. “This tragic event must remind all of us to follow the regulations and stay on boardwalks when visiting Yellowstone’s geyser basins.”
The Associated Press reported that Scott had graduated recently from Pacific University in Oregon.
And it’s only one in a string of problems regarding tourists at Yellowstone this year. Last month, a father and son picked up a baby bison after it was separated from its mother. The young bison then had to be euthanized. Earlier this month, a recently viral video showed an elk charging at a woman in the park after she violated Yellowstone’s rule of staying a minimum of 25 yards away from wildlife.
Yellowstone offers the following safety rules:
The animals here are wild and should never be approached, no matter how calm they appear to be. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk. Never leave small children unattended near wild animals.
Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas: hot springs have injured or killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature. Keep your children close and make sure they understand the danger posed by boiling water.
Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass: do not stop in the road or block traffic in any way. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam.
Never feed wildlife, or leave food/garbage unattended. Animals that become habituated to human food may display aggression toward people and have to be killed.