A man from Idaho was banned from Yellowstone National Park for two years after he allegedly tried to cook chicken in a thermal area using a hot spring.
The man was sentenced to pay $1,200 after pleading guilty in a court in Mammoth Hot Springs on September 10 to several counts of assault – including marching in a thermal area and violating roadblocks and restrictions on use – the East Idaho News reported for the first time.
Three suspects were quoted on August 7 after a ranger received the report that a group of 10 people, including a child, were hiking with cooking pots toward the Shoshone Geyser Basin. They were found with two chickens in a sack that had been placed in a hot spring.
The Idaho Falls suspect, who was not identified by name, was sentenced by the court to two years of unsupervised probation and a $600 fine on each charge.
It was decided that he was not allowed to return to Yellowstone National Park during this time.
Yellowstone has the largest concentration of active geysers in the world and has more than 10,000 thermal features. It is against park rules to move off the beach promenades or designated paths within hydrothermal areas or to place anything in thermal features. The water in the hot springs can cause lethal burns due to the scalding liquid under the thin, fragile crust around the springs.
According to Yellowstone officials, more than 20 people have died from burns they suffered after entering or falling into the hot springs. The park says that warning signs and wooden walkways that allow people to approach the geyser fields are clearly visible to visitors.
But with four million people traveling to the park each year, local authorities say that some still disregard the rules, often with deadly consequences.
On June 7, 2016, a 23-year-old man named Colin Scott died after falling into a hot spring near Porkchop Geyser after illegally leaving a promenade with his sister. Rangers said they could not recover his body but later found some of his belongings.
Just the day before, a 13-year-old boy was hospitalized after he had burned his ankle and foot after his father slipped near Old Faithful Geyser. A park press release at the time stated that the couple had “left the designated path in the thermal area”.
Recently, on October 9th of this year, a three-year-old suffered second-degree burns to his lower body and back after falling into a small thermal spring.
“This incident is currently under investigation,” officials said in a statement. “This is the second significant injury in a thermal area in 2020. In May of this year, a visitor who entered the park illegally, while reversing and taking photographs, fell into a thermal area at Old Faithful”.