I understand I upset you when I yelled at you to return to the pathway. I had repeatedly told you to return because you were ignoring me. When you did, I thanked you, and you angrily walked away. When your friends came along and did the same thing, I reminded them as well many times to return to the pathway. I know you guys thought you were safe, but I was concerned. Walking off the pathway in a thermal area is unsafe. It also destroys the very resource you were looking at. Walking up to a bison to get a better picture or selfie is very unsafe as well.
When your group got together, all nine guys, you began to chat about me yelling at you. A couple of you even high-fived for getting told to be back on the path. You boasted about getting close enough to a different bison that you chased it off, and that was bison scat on your shoe. One of you said, “Can’t I just show you my Army ID, and you let me go up there? I’m not scared of any bison.” I felt very scared, how much more were you guys going to do? Why hadn’t you left yet? Why did you continue to disrespect me and stay? What else were you going to say? You obviously didn’t respect me, my young female self in uniform. I kept my smile on and thanked you for “ruining our wildlife”. (Which I admit was silly and childish to say.) You were then on your way, laughing at me and joking.
What I wanted to tell you is that what is special about Yellowstone is that the animals are wild. People come from all over the world to see the wild animals. However, they can only stay wild if we are willing to give them their space. That may mean sacrificing an opportunity to get an up-close picture. It may mean waiting for a while for them to cross a road. The only reason the animals are still wild is because of visitors before you cared enough to respect the wildness of the animals. That is what I would have said if you would have given me the chance.
To the three guys who stayed to apologize for the other men in the unit, I’m sorry I cried in front of you. Thank you for apologizing for their behavior. I’m sorry I was crying and couldn’t answer your question; Why did you want to be a Park Ranger?
You’re right I didn’t become one to yell at visitors, it’s the worst part of the job. I wanted to be a Park Ranger because I want to help people connect with their National Parks. I want to help them learn, to have fun, and to make memories that will last a lifetime. To help everyone understand how special the parks are and to help them realize that they can help keep it special. No Park Ranger wants to yell or ruin people’s vacations, but we are in a tough spot. It’s hard to keep both the visitors safe and the resources safe sometimes. We all love the National Parks, and we want to protect them.
We want you to love them like we do.