NPS offers animal-human interactive experiences to meet $20M budget gap

In an attempt to meet a $20-million budget shortfall, the National Park Service will offer animal-human interactive experiences for the 2012 spring and summer tourist season, reports the Department of the Interior today, April 1.

States an April 1st NPS announcement:

Our national parks and educational rangers have always provided opportunities for hikers, campers, and other outdoor explorers to experience the wonders of the natural world firsthand. Now, we've taken it to the next level with full-on interactive animal-human experiences.

“We expect Yellowstone National Park to be a big draw with its program,” says one Yellowstone park ranger. “Yellowstone has bison and bears, both black and grizzly, which are pretty photogenic. So we're quite lucky there. Not like the Everglades, which has to figure out what to do with those ugly alligators. Gross.”

“In Yellowstone people already are creating their own interactive photo opps anyway,” said Ranger Smith. “Every season we have families approaching the animals, putting their kids on a bison for a photo opp, or picking up a cute little bear cub to play patty cake and hold a jar of honey. So we figured, why fight it? Now we charge them a hundred bucks a pop and have them sign a liability waiver.”

For $200 a person you can hold an adorably anthropomorphic bear cub with his own stolen pic-a-nic basket while standing on top of Old Faithful. For an extra $50, you and the bear can be chased by Ranger Smith.

Budget analysts estimate the $20-million NPS shortfall will be met by fall.


Filed under: April 1, Funny

Comments

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 1, 2012 at 9:44 a.m. (EDT)

Uh huh.

This could be bad. Kids sitting on a bison and playing patty cake with a bear cub. Sorry, I understand that they are trying to generate revenue to help with this and that but giving children any idea that it is ok to play with a bear cub or any wild animal for that matter is bonkers imho.

This is how children will take it.

I personally feel that it is smarter to instill values such as "respect their space, their power, and look but don't touch" is alot smarter.

I can only imagine the bear stories that could come from this in the future. Momma may not be cool with ya playing patty cake with her baby in the wild although ya did it at Yellowstone's petting zoo.

Animals such as bears are beautiful creatures from a distance and command our respect. I think this approach is a big no no to instill in a child if for no other reason than the curiousity/lack of self regard that they have at a young age.

To me this has bad written all over it.

In regards to the gator comment...

They are an intricate part of our ecosystem. I am kinda turned off by the comment made in regards to them as well.

Gross?

Gross is the fact that the NPS would even consider this. Oh wait, money is involved I forgot.

Gross is the fact that the NPS could very well be teaching children the wrong ideas by letting them get close and cuddle with wild animals being children may think its fine to do in a controlled environment, it must be ok to do in the wild as well.

This is not a good idea.

mimi1949
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April 1, 2012 at 10:17 a.m. (EDT)

This has to be a joke!

Jake W
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April 1, 2012 at 11:38 a.m. (EDT)

Pretty sure this is an April fools joke.....if not, this has to be the worst idea ever.

Seth Levy (Seth)
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April 1, 2012 at 12:16 p.m. (EDT)

It's about time!  I'm getting excited to go on an elk ride in the Tetons, pose with Moose in Maine, and get engaged with NPS' pilot "Swim with a Shark" program in the Dry Tortugas!

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 1, 2012 at 12:48 p.m. (EDT)

I want to get in on the "Hug a Rogue Grizzly & Make a New Friend Day." Anyone have any info on when this is occurring?

karmantra
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April 1, 2012 at 2:03 p.m. (EDT)

I definitely would pay up to view a park ranger 'wrestle a wolverine!'

Callahan
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April 1, 2012 at 2:29 p.m. (EDT)

when you I get to wrestle a Bear ?

Raiders99999
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April 1, 2012 at 2:49 p.m. (EDT)

Finally! Now is my chance to "bear hug" an actual bear!

mikemorrow
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April 1, 2012 at 3:19 p.m. (EDT)

Did Rick swallow this hook, line, and sinker? LOL

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 1, 2012 at 3:24 p.m. (EDT)

Lack of go-go juice in the am Mike. I need at least a pot in me before I am functional. I actually read it twice and was like "are they out of their minds?"

apeman
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April 1, 2012 at 5:07 p.m. (EDT)

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Since the NPS has determined that this does not fall into the category of "Risky Behavior" I'm all for it. Gotta spend that borrowed money somewhere. I do wonder how they keep momma bear busy while we are holding her little cub. A bucket of honey perhaps.

On another note, I did try twice, while in Yellowstone,ty to play with the Buffalo. They were not very receptive and luckily for me only stomped and snorted. Later on the trip I tried to approach a mother moose and her young calf, needless to say I did not get very close as she conveyed her displeasure. I also discovered that I'm not as quite a I stealthy as I thought I could be. Lesson learned in all instances……………...Get a Buffalo costume and hire a mountain lion.

 

Rick, Got ditch for sale in Eastern WA for sale if your interested!!!!!! ;-}}>

.

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 1, 2012 at 5:23 p.m. (EDT)

How much? Am I purchasing by the square foot? Does whatever is in it come with the deal?

bheiser1
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April 1, 2012 at 9:08 p.m. (EDT)

LOL they had me going until the part about the "ugly alligators" :).

phraber
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April 2, 2012 at 12:33 a.m. (EDT)

Ya got me! (I was hoping the news about Micah True was untrue.)

pillowthread
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April 2, 2012 at 12:37 a.m. (EDT)

"...those ugly alligators. Gross."

Classic!...Yeah, I got an email the other day saying the BLM is starting a program to allow visitors to flake off petroglyphs, if they can find them, for a flat rate. $50 if it's smaller than your hand, $100 if it's smaller than your head, $500 if it's smaller than you. They told me to expect an increase in very large visitors, and that I'd likely be re-stocking the outhouses more frequently...

ocalacomputerguy
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April 2, 2012 at 7:19 a.m. (EDT)

I would pay to see some politician-animal interactions.  Take some water skiing in the everglades or trolling for alligators as we call it.

Alicia
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April 2, 2012 at 9:13 a.m. (EDT)

I can't wait for all those elk and bison rides and hug-a-bear days to start in our national parks. That way I won't have to walk anymore, and I'll have way better vacation pictures than my neighbors.

As you've all surmised by now, yes, this was an April Fool's Day story. I actually got a little worried as Rick got outraged about this "program." But, it was meant in good fun.

Here's a funny one from Kraig Becker at The Adventure Blog. He wrote it for Gadling: Extreme kayaker sets sights on Seven Plummets!

If you're newer to Trailspace, or just missed them, here are stories from past April Firsts:

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 2, 2012 at 11:10 a.m. (EDT)

No worries Alicia, it definitely woke me up being my blood pressure was elevated to new levels. Hey look at the bright side. My caffeine intake for the day was pretty much null and void after I took the bait.

No need for the go-go juice. I was definitely awake. ;)

On a side note I still want to kayak Angel Falls. One can dream right?

ocalacomputerguy
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April 2, 2012 at 2:45 p.m. (EDT)

Okay..  I read the one about the OT brand.  How does one severely cut ones finger setting up a tent?  

As for the alligators in the Everglades the most exciting thing will be the alligator ski. It's where you stand on two alligators with ropes through their mouths and go for a wild and crazy ride.

Alicia
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April 2, 2012 at 2:53 p.m. (EDT)

ocalacomputerguy said:

Okay..  I read the one about the OT brand.  How does one severely cut ones finger setting up a tent?  

Laceration by segments of metal tent pole. I was sent the pictures (as the owner of the finger thought I was at fault). It was not pretty.

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 2, 2012 at 3:28 p.m. (EDT)

I actually called Yellowstone on the 1-866-256-9046 number on this one right after I read it(before I voiced my thoughts on the matter here) and voiced my feelings towards this "new program" early yesterday morning. They were like "what are you talking about" so I emailed them a link to the thread.

Along with my feelings a bit more in depth. I have yet to hear from them.

Based on the fact that I didn't catch on that this was a joke(and what day it was) I am sure the response I get back will be quite interesting to say the least.

I pray there are no ramifications on this from their side. :(

I will keep everyone posted.

pillowthread
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April 2, 2012 at 4:38 p.m. (EDT)

That's wonderful.

GaryPalmer
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April 2, 2012 at 5:01 p.m. (EDT)

 

How can the NPS have a $20 million budget gap? They must have tons of money after what they charge to enter "thier" parks!

Alicia
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April 2, 2012 at 5:31 p.m. (EDT)

Oh boy, Rick. Maybe they've chalked it up to you being an April Fool's prankster and moved on. One can hope...

Gary, I admit to making up the $20-million number, like all of the article.

However, back in the real world, the National Parks Conservation Association (a nonprofit that advocates for the parks) has published reports on National Parks and funding, including here: http://www.npca.org/news/reports/made-in-america.html

Here is an excerpt on funding from its November 2011 report, "Made in America" (available for download as a PDF). I can neither confirm nor deny the validity of the numbers:

Federal budget in 2010: $3.7 trillion
National Park Service discretionary budget in 2010: $2.75 billion
(.074%, or 1/13th of 1% of the total)

National Park Service discretionary budget in fiscal year 2002
(in 2011 dollars): $3 billion
National Park Service discretionary budget in fiscal year 2011:
$2.6 billion (a $387 million, 13% decline)

Amount of economic value to the public for each $1 invested
in our national parks: $4
Number of private-sector jobs generated annually by national parks: 267,000
Direct annual contribution of national parks to the economy: $13.2 billion (much more when adding related, indirect spending)

National park operations shortfall: $500 to $600 million
Deferred maintenance backlog: $10.8 billion
Critical systems deferred maintenance backlog: $3.7 billion
Land acquisition backlog: roughly $2 billion

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 2, 2012 at 5:39 p.m. (EDT)

I'm just messin with ya Alicia, figured I owed you one. :p

gonzan
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April 3, 2012 at 12:03 p.m. (EDT)

Haha, Nice :)

ocalacomputerguy
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April 3, 2012 at 1:50 p.m. (EDT)

Apparently the NPS read this and have actually started a program. Here's a video of them beta testing it.

http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/man-plays-with-grizzly-bear/1jrmohqss

What I really want to see though is the bison ride.

apeman
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April 3, 2012 at 5:25 p.m. (EDT)

Rick-Pittsburgh said:

I actually called Yellowstone on the 1-866-256-9046 number on this one right after I read it(before I voiced my thoughts on the matter here) and voiced my feelings towards this "new program" early yesterday morning. They were like "what are you talking about" so I emailed them a link to the thread.

Along with my feelings a bit more in depth. I have yet to hear from them.

Based on the fact that I didn't catch on that this was a joke(and what day it was) I am sure the response I get back will be quite interesting to say the least.

I pray there are no ramifications on this from their side. :(

I will keep everyone posted.

 

Oh my, that’s just to funny. I just may have to call them and let them know what animals I want to play with in the future. Puma cubs are high on my list and I've always wanted to tease the Badgers and Wolverines.

.

apeman
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April 3, 2012 at 5:33 p.m. (EDT)

GaryPalmer said:

 

How can the NPS have a $20 million budget gap? They must have tons of money after what they charge to enter "thier" parks!

Because no matter how much money they have coming in from any source they will spend it all and have a short fall.  I have found no exceptions with any government entities. They will always spend themselves into a deficit.  If they have extra money left over at the end of the fiscal year, then they find ways to spend it rather than take a hit the following year.  Your tax $'s at work.

Rick-Pittsburgh
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April 6, 2012 at 8:38 p.m. (EDT)

Let's have a sing-a-long in honor of Yosemite's petting zoo...

jdw
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April 23, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. (EDT)

I gotta go there

jdw
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April 23, 2012 at 11:31 a.m. (EDT)

amazing

Callahan
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April 24, 2012 at 11:34 a.m. (EDT)

April 1'd ya

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