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Man facing fine, possible jail time after walking across Yellowstone thermal area

Posted at 12:06 PM, Jun 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-02 14:06:42-04

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – At Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, the signs are clear: Stay on the walkways.

However, one man left the walkway on May 30 anyway.

Now, he faces a $5,000 fine for leaving a boardwalk at the spring after another YNP visitor took a video and photos of the incident and reported it to park officials.

“The crust in that area and in other thermal areas can be very thin,” said YNP Spokesperson Linda Veress. If you put a little weight on the crust, you could fall right through.

“And underneath the crust is scalding hot water, and they can suffer severe burns or even die,” Veress said.

The person who recorded the man posted a video to social media and took a photo of the license plate of the car he was traveling in — and then immediately found a park ranger.

“Sometimes they’ll wait days and they’ll post it on their personal social media accounts or they might tell their friends, but that doesn’t help us too much after the fact. But reporting it promptly helps us,” said Veress.

Park officials ask visitors to report the potentially harmful activity as part of the Yellowstone Pledge to safeguard the park.

The man ticketed could also face up to six months in jail.  Because the park is federal land, a federal judge may eventually determine the punishment.

The moment joins a long line of incidents in Yellowstone.

Just a few weeks ago, a visitor recorded a dog running around and barking at two bison in the area between Grand Prismatic Spring and Norris Geyser Basin.

In September of 2018, a man was knocked down by an elk while standing on the side of the road. He was not injured.

In July of 2018, a man was caught on camera taunting a bison on a road in Hayden Valley. He was later sentenced to 130 days in jail by a federal judge in Wyoming.

-Reported by John Sherer/MTN News