I was born and raised in Helena, Montana, and go back a few times a year to visit family.
Over the years, I've seen and heard of tourists doing unacceptable — and frankly stupid — things.
The worst offense of all? Messing with the state's wildlife.
Having grown up in Montana and spent much of my life traveling, I can confidently say that Montana is a remarkable place to vacation.
The state's pristine landscape and seemingly endless skyline earned it the nickname Big Sky Country, and millions of people experience it for themselves each year. In fact, according to data from the Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research, about 12.5 million people visited the state in 2022.
Given the state's population is just over one million, that's a substantial influx of tourists — and with that many people coming into the state, there's bound to be some mishaps here and there.
And while there's not much that irritates locals to our core — hell, you can dress like Kevin Costner in "Yellowstone" if that's what makes you happy — there's one thing that's sure to make the locals mad: harassing the wildlife.
Without fail, every year, we're met with new stories about unruly tourists, with the most egregious offenses typically coming out of Yellowstone National Park, which we share with Wyoming and Idaho. The poor behavior is so widespread that the Instagram page Tourons Of Yellowstone, is dedicated to documenting it.
Even though there were no reported injuries from either incident, it's not unheard of.
Bison have gored several tourists in recent years, NBC News reports. Oftentimes, though the animals bear the weight of human interaction.
In May, a baby bison was euthanized after a tourist attempted to help it across a river, according to a news release from the US Department of Justice District of Wyoming. The same thing happened in 2016, when a group of tourists put a bison calf in their car, thinking it looked "cold."
In a statement following the 2016 event, the National Park Service released a statement warning visitors that approaching wildlife can "drastically affect their well-being and, in this case, their survival."
Park regulations require visitors to stay at least 300 feet from bears and wolves, and 75 feet from deer, bison, and other animals.
It's time tourists start listening.
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