This summer has been particularly deadly in national parks. More fatal accidents have been observed than in any year in recent memory. Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park have both been dangerous to travelers this summer.
Highest death toll in years
At Yosemite National Park in recent weeks, a higher-than-normal number of people have been killed in accidents in the park. A recent victim of a tragic accident brings the death toll to the highest number in living memory. A woman slipped and fell to her death from Half Dome, according to ABC, a 4,800 foot-tall granite dome that is a popular hiking destination in Yosemite. The route to the top of the granite structure requires the use of steel cables that guide hikers to the top, which became slick as she was descending from the summit during a rain storm. Fourteen people have died in Yosemite National Park this year, making it the deadliest year in park history since 2007, when seven people died in the park. Several weeks ago, three were presumed killed when they were swept over Vernal Fall, a waterfall on the Merced River in the park.
Bear attacks on hikers
Authorities attribute deaths in Yosemite to snowmelt from record-high snowfall in the winter. However, other national parks are having problems with bears. The first fatal bear attack in 25 years was recorded this year in Yellowstone National Park, according to the New York Times, when a grizzly attacked and killed a 57-year-old hiker who was traversing the backtrails in Yellowstone. The bear was reported to have been protecting her cubs. Fatal bear attacks outside Yellowstone have been recorded when Yellowstone grizzlies wander outside the park, often foraging for food in populated areas. Four teens were also attacked by a grizzly in Alaska this year, according to the Washington Post, while engaging in wilderness survival training north of Anchorage.
The dangers of national parks
Though the word “park” might imply otherwise, the nation’s wildlife parks and preserves pose significant dangers, as these are preserved areas of nature. According to USA Today, 187 people died in national parks in 2010, including 160 deaths in search-and-rescue incidents that also included 1,658 injuries. In Yosemite alone, 38 people died and 1,225 had to be rescued between 2006 and 2010, according to CBS. Those rescues cost $3 million. According to the National Park Service, more than 281 million people visited national parks last year, and according to a Park Service spokesman quoted by USA Today, “99 percent of national park visitors do the things we ask them to do,” so national parks are not dangerous to everyone. However, not obeying posted safety guidelines is the most common way to get into danger in the nation’s parks.
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/teen-thought-he-would-die-in-alaska-bear-attack-this-cant-be-happening-to-me/2011/07/26/gIQAmPKAaI_story.html
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/us/10grizzly.html
USA Today: http://travel.usatoday.com/destinations/dispatches/post/2011/07/national-park-deaths-random-or-reckless/178043/1
National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/faqs.htm
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