Six people were apprehended after people watching the webcam called Park officials

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Yellowstone Webcam Catches Men Using Old Faithful as Toilet

See PEER’s press release here.

Update: 2 Yellowstone workers fired after watering geyser
Associated Press

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

24 Responses to Yellowstone Webcam Catches Men Using Old Faithful as Toilet

  1. avatar Virginia says:

    Nice!!

  2. avatar Don George says:

    Sure would like to know the outcome of this. As usual their offense is considered a misdemeanor. I hope at least they get fired from the Park Service vendor they worked for.
    It seems the number of people who have no respect for anything is growing. A couple of weeks ago I was photographing Anasazi ruins in several Utah canyons. Two adults in their eartly 20’s went into the ruins and started to climb through the windows etc. After we had a talk with them they left. Where are their brains these relics can never be replaced!!! (By the way I know where their brains are).

  3. I had heard that they were fired.

  4. avatar Save bears says:

    Jim,

    They are still with their employers, but it is surmised that they will be terminated after the hearings.

  5. avatar Dave Smith says:

    If I remember correctly from Ed Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang, George Hayduke says, “I piss on you all from a considerable height.”

    That’s not exactly what the children pissing on Old Faithful are doing. It’s what snowmobilers do by defiling Yellowstone Park.

  6. avatar Salle says:

    I hope they get some jail time and their names released to the public so that they can hear about it from the general public as well. I also think Xanterra should be fined and held to a higher standard since their employees pose such risks to public resources.

    No respect, indeed. That’s something that is rapidly disappearing from our society and this is just one manifestation resulting from it.

  7. avatar jdubya says:

    IPOF Club – “I Peed in Old Faithful”

    I am not claiming what these guys did was right, and certainly the one who put a rock in the geyser should be charged with as serious a crime as they can stick him with, but the others didn’t exactly start world war three. Seems the public ridicule over the issue and making them do public service on their own time this summer to educate Yellowstone guests on proper geyser behavior might be more productive in the long run. Surely something positive could come out of this incident.

  8. avatar Maska says:

    I tend to agree with jdubya regarding the best approach to these guys. It would be interesting to know their ages. This has some of the flavor of a fraternity prank–dumb and thoughtless, but not necessarily done with malicious intent. One wonders how much Bud Light they consumed before the peeing spree.

    Gee, their mothers must be proud of them. 🙂

    Meanwhile, does anybody else find the following quote from the Yellowstone communications plan, included in the PEER press release, to be just a little creepy?

    “Existing webcams within developed areas could be upgraded to wireless, or new wireless webcams could be installed in developed areas of the park if they are found to meet the siting criteria…It is possible that wireless webcams could be placed in backcountry areas for resource monitoring or to address safety concerns.” (p.30)

    Just what we need–Big Brother in the backcountry.

  9. avatar vicki says:

    I say we just get a bunch of drunks to pee on them? Or maybe throw a bit of boiling geyser water on what parts they left dagling? Ha. Sorry guys, but you don’t see women doing crapage like this. Maybe if you teach them they may lose something they value, they’d think twice before literally “pissing” on things that others value. I think this behavior is symbolic.

    Aside from the act itself impacting the geyser….what is a child would have seen. How lude and traumatic for them.

    But hey, I am an extreme person upon occasion. Particularly when it comes to people defacating things I hold near to my heart…like the planet, nature, our resources.

  10. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Maska,

    I can relate.

    I was hiking around the Huachucas, on the border, last year and it felt like there was no escaping the tethered white monitoring blimps – panoptic oversight, creepy.

  11. avatar paulWTAMU says:

    Too bad it didn’t erupt on ’em. Nothing like 3rd degree burns on your genitals to teach a lesson.

  12. avatar mikarooni says:

    For those of you who are not ready to take this issue so seriously, the urine in the geyser is not the primary problem, although I’m not sure that, if you thought about it, you “just-a-prank” folks would agree to watch the next eruption from a downwind spot on the boardwalk. The primary problem with what was done was dropping the rock down the throat of Old Faithful. I’m not sure I would consider a national treasure and symbol being stopped up by a vandal’s rock to be just a prank. I would also comment that these concessionaire jobs, whether Xanterra or Delaware North or whoever since I don’t know who these degenerates worked for, could and should be reserved as a privilege for the best and brightest of college youth, for students from across America and around the world as a broadening experience involving a connection with the park ideal. These men were apparently 20-somethings and, if they were just there because they couldn’t find other employment, then I’m not sure we, as a Nation, are making the best of the opportunity that seasonal work in The Park offers for cultivating future leaders.

  13. avatar Craig says:

    What idiots! But not surprising with the way this new generation treats the outdoors! We hunt out of a cabin in Washington Basin in the White Clouds which is the only cabin left standing from the 1800s. Every year assholes, break in shoot stuff ect! I cannot understand why that would be enjoyable to anyone? It’s amazing the disrespect people have for our past or National treasures!

  14. avatar Dave Smith says:

    Bear spray. How about some aversive conditioning with bear spray? Make them walk toward the OF geyser 10 times, and have rangers blast them with bear spray each time. That’ll learn um. Aversive conditioning. Or would that be the equivilent of waterboarding suspected terrorists? Torture.

  15. avatar Nathan Hobbs says:

    Mikaroni
    Lots of reasons not to be urinating in a geyser, they are full of rare and very exotic bacteria that has many valuable uses…one of the greatest discoveries of this age -genetics was pushed forward by an enzyme found in Yellowstone thermal areas that makes Polymerase Chain Reaction testing possible, its a industry worth over half a billion dollars now but the park never got a cent from it.

    from my understanding Less than half of the living organisms that reside in hot springs have been cataloged…a treasure trove of information.

    I think we would be surprised though quite unfortunately if we were given a count of how many times someone has relived themselves and thrown money rocks and other junk down that geyser. I read one account that said in the 1930’s another thermal feature Morning Glory Pool was cleaned and ’60 dollars’ worth of change was found, along with several shirts and undergarments..Im glad these guys got caught hopefully it will teach them, and others a lesson.

  16. avatar Save bears says:

    From my understanding, now one of the kids have been officially fired, banned from the park for 2 years, fined and put on 2 years probation…the others outcome is pending on the outcome of there pleas and hearings.

  17. avatar bob jackson says:

    Nathan,
    The Park never got a cent from the bacteria industry back then, but the “money” and perks under the table to YNP administrative personnel is one of the most hushed up events in scum history. Those in Yellowstone who yelled “foul’ were retailiated against. they were transferred out of related positions and eventually were pushed out. They lost their careers.

    I also agree with jdubya. I don’t know the background of these youth but even with all the college kids being hired in the 60’s and 70’s it was fun times then and now for most. Old Faithful has had food coloring thrown down it innumerable times so it erupted with color, Tide thrown in to make one hella of a suds display and had Park maintainance employees stick an old truck steering wheel in the ground before daylight then come back later, safety helmets and all to “turn on” Old faithful for the tourists (they got fired which a lot of us thought was very prudish by NPS).

    I think it is more important to channel fun, not destroy it. There was way too much intimidation by gestopo rangers and Yellowstone Park Co. administrators when I worked there. Rangers with religous hangups would take charge of concessioner meetings and tell youth they couldn’t wear tee shirts without bras. Some kids were so scared coming out of these meetings they even thought they were not suppose to go outside bare footed. Illegal raids were forever happening on employee housing and anyone …govt or consession….with hippie type posters on the wall were harassed continually. Those govt. employees from Lake and Fishing Bridge had housing searched continually..all illegally. Most harassed that much were soon terminated for no reason at all.

    Those going out “necking” were followed by both rangers and Lake highups and snuck up on only to be interrupted at the most inopportune times with flashlights.

    Throwing a rock down Old faithful was serious no-no,and should be dealt with but knowing some of the law types, I think these types are destroying the Yellowstone experience for employees and vacationing families more than what is seen on web cams.

    To me this episode makes a great opportunity for Park and consessionner administrators to sponsor an evening feed for all employees in the area. Have some fun and relax and explain why this Park has to be protected. Will it happen? no. The law rules.

    I know, I prosecuted a lot of poachers in my day but i always went by what my first head law enforcement officer said, “Use the least amount of enforcement to change a behavioral pattern”.

    Again, I don’t know the specifics of this case, but I doubt most of these kids were all that bad of characters. Yes, spend a lot of face time with them to TEACH and then let them go back into the concessioner population and let them then become promoters and guardians themselves. It would mean a lot less enforcement later for the whole concessioner work force. What good are they to Yellowstone principles and advocacy if they are banned from Yellowstone?

  18. avatar JB says:

    “There was way too much intimidation by gestopo rangers and Yellowstone Park Co. administrators when I worked there.”

    A few years back I was visiting the park with my wife on the last day it was open before winter season (I believe it was the first weekend in November). Anyway, we had a great visit and saw almost no one. On our way out, my wife wanted to snap a picture of the falls, so we headed down to the overlook area. We saw one car–a ranger on his way out. We pulled into the bus loading zone and my wife jumped out to snap a quick photo when the ranger whipped his car around pulled up behind us and literally started screaming. He was irate that we had parked in the bus loading zone. Of course, there were no buses; in fact, there weren’t even any cars, his was the only vehicle we’d seen all morning. I was so taken aback that I apologized and immediately moved my car while he continued to lecture me. It was a really crappy way to end a great visit to the park. Lesson learned.

    I don’t like to stereotype, but law enforcement seems to attract people who enjoy their authority a bit too much.

  19. avatar YNPGal says:

    I work there, I love this place. I am one of the people who talks to new employees about how each of us as individuals are expected to be stewards of the precious resources we get to live near. I don’t know who these guys are, but they know better than to do what they did. Ignorance is nearly impossible in this case.

    These guy’s behavior is really rare for our employees. Most of them understand stewardship and are in awe of their surroundings.

    I agree with those who feel that the best punishment would be community service and teaching others why protection of thermal features is so important.

    I wish we could see the rock-thrower in jail, but it seems NPS doesn’t have that kind of time, or the will to punish that harshly.

    And…. If we could ever see the day that so many young people want to come work in Yellowstone for the reasons all of us want to be there. We don’t attract today’s college students… they don’t want what we have to offer, wilderness, old housing, lack of TV and modern communications that they hold so dear, cafeteria food on old blue trays, no malls, no McDonalds. I could go on. It seems the international kids understand YNP’s iconic significance way more than our own folks do.

    Meanwhile, we keep the learning alive, with interpretive learning programs and guided tours and hikes all year. We teach it and most people love it!

    These guys are losers and are on a one-way trip out the nearest entrance gate.

  20. avatar bob jackson says:

    It is the administration above responsible for these actions. They let these goons keep doing these things. Tourists follow up with all kinds of written complaints, but the head law enforcement guys nowadays and those above them keep covering it up.

    The guy you mention, if it is the same one, has had lots of complaints filed against. A few years ago my friend (who worked at Canyon for the Natualists) and I saw this guy parked by the roadside (after dark). We knew who it was because he was the only one patrolling that night. So we drove up along side him to ask of road conditions (snowing and wanting to go over Blanden Hill). This guy slams the car in reverse as we get parallel and then whips ins straight behind us, turns on his spot light, and then over the mike says for us to put our hands up for him to see them. He then procedes to our car and I tell him, “its ok its just us”. I then say my name and my friend hers. She lived just a few doors down from him. He then robotically asks us for our drivers license. I repeat again, “it is ok it is just us’. Finally not addressing us he says he has to check something out down the road. He goes back to his car and we finally put our hands down.

    I would hate to think of the outcome if we would have been regular tourists. Clones are like this guy all over Yellowstone. It is the fault of administration and it is the fault of fellow rangers who allow this type of behavior to continue. I’d hear the stories every time I came out of the back country. Some of the best rangers even stuck their necks out and reported the gross abuse to their supervisors. The ranger reporting would get retailiated against. they would relate this to me and I’d tell them to take it to the Supt. if they didn’t want to go to Region. of course they knew what happened if they went to this office. It went back down to the Chief and then an inquisition by a bunch of supervisors commenced. I said it then gave evidence to justify taking it on to Region. But, alas, it was too much for most good guys to confront. Either they continued to look the other way and become apathetic or they eventually saw the shrinks and were zombied on Prozac.

    I fought every battle in house and on the boundary ever allowed me for 30 years. I despised an administration who could but never did anything other than to save their own embarrassment or accountability.

    I would have reported your story to whomever I could if I was still there. I did for lots of tourists. I didn’t care what they tried to do back to me. What were they going to do, send me to my farm?

    I couldn’t change the system but I did everything I could. I advised peers what they could do to stop it and some did do things they were proud of. In the end it was just to much wear and tear for most to continue trying to “do good” against a system they were a part of but were isolated ethically from.

    They left or transferred. I would suggest you report your incident to your congressman even though it was a while ago. They write nasty letters back to Yellowstone and administration has to spend more time than they want trying to blend a story together. This is the only reason they might rein in a bit a guy like what you encountered. I would also say to your congressman you do not believe this is an isolated incident and it is probably endemic in Yellowstone. Feel free to relate what I said. And if he, she, wants they can get ahold of me for more examples. Plus I will let them know how to fix it. This, of course, is the turning back point for most legislators. They address a constuients concerns but don’t have the time to fix the problem long term. such is life … and give them hell.

  21. avatar buffalorunner says:

    It’s not that American students do not want to work in a place like YNP or fail to appreciate what the place has to offer there. Xanterra does not hire a lot of American students because their school semester schedules prohibit them from working the longer season that is required. So instead, they hire alot of young foreign nationals to work for them. Regardless, these young men, wherever they’re from, displayed utter disrespect for an incredible natural feature, and they should be fired.

  22. Buffalorunner,

    Thanks for that info. I wondered why the young people were almost all foreign nationals.

  23. avatar bob jackson says:

    I hate to be the negative one again, but the concessioners do it all for profit. For one there is little accountability from foreigners. Do they, the companies care about these foreigners? Look what happened when this practise started and you had foreigners coming over to find no job and no place to stay. It was covered in the local press when it got so bad.

    The time for most seasonal employment in Yellowstone has always been the same. Granted, there has been some push by the concessioners to extend the season but most tourists come after school is out and leave when school starts again. The federal govt. recognizes this and adapts seasonal employment to this change of tourist use. Higher up staff fills in during slow periods. With a little bit of creative hiring the concessioner could fill the niches with AMERICAN kids.

    We need our youth to understand what our Parks are about and any congressman seeing that many foreign employments should be investigating the reasons why. What is happening in our national Parks is sort of like farming out to foreign companies the making of American flags.

    I feel any concessioner contract for national Parks should stipulate that American help be sought out first!! For concessioners to alibi that school runs too long for college kids to work in places like Yellowstone is a joke.

    I worked too long in Yellowstone to know how administration bowed to these profiteers. I was an ‘inspector” of outfitter concessions so had all the same food safety and facilities training from and dealt with the same administrators as those dealing with the Zantara’s and Hamilton stores.

    The Park administration would even “invite” these company heads on their back country death marches and fishing trips. There would be joking to Terry Povah about Ham stores rubber tomahawks, but at the same time Hamilton stores bought the booze for the NPS administrative trips coming to my area. Also they donated a bunch of money to the non profit Yellowstone Association. They even “lent” the Park their private horses. I know because I used them.

    It was no different than what one reads about in congressional junkets from private companies. It was also no different either at Fort Jefferson, where I worked one winter at the request of a Park Administrator friend. Deals between govt. and private companies were made, lots of them. We even had one whole room for all the booze for these events…paid for by Everglades Supt. funds. The 50 foot Park Service boat would be dispatched from Flamingo and we were “ordered” to catch 300 # of fish for some none govt. event in Miami. The NPS said they would pay for all the beer we wanted to drink …. while catching these fish on govt. time. They also asked us to procure shrimp from the commercial boats. It was always one bottle of whiskey for one pail of shrimp dipped out of the hold. It stinks folks.

    They, the private companies, do all this for a reason and if they can get foreign students cheaper and the less resistance from administration the better. Of course there is always room for a Mammoth administrators high school son or daughter to work the summer for a concessioner in Yellowstone. School schedules are always accommodated. It could be the same for all concession employees.

    Yes, it is good for foreigners to experience our National treasures but they are not the ones growing up to vote on issues like the environment. It has to change.

  24. avatar Craig says:

    Funny Yellowstones website has not reported this yet!

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