Yellowstone National Park

USEPA / Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re thinking about making a trek to the country’s first national park this summer, you are far from alone. About 1.3 million people have visited Yellowstone National Park so far this year, which represents a nearly 20 percent increase over last year.

Yellowstone officials say almost 800,000 visitors came through in June, which broke that month’s previous record by 12 percent.

grizzly bear, yellowstone
Xinem / Flickr Creative Commons

Getting hurt at Yellowstone National Park isn't quite as glamorous as you might think.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that although the park is full of hazards like bears, bison, scalding water and canyons, visitors are most likely to be injured from mundane accidents like trips, slips and falls.

Bear attacks are dramatic but exceedingly rare. National Park Service statistics put the likelihood being injured by a bear during a visit to Yellowstone at 1 in 2.1 million.

James Good / Flickr Creative Commons

The University of Idaho says it won't graze sheep this summer on three high-elevation areas in eastern Idaho and western Montana until a lawsuit filed by environmental groups concerning a federal sheep research facility is resolved.

Federal officials in documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court say the university in March notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture it wouldn't send sheep or sheepherders to the allotments this summer.

SkyWest, airplane, airport
Aero Icarus / Flickr Creative Commons

SkyWest Airlines has announced it will soon offer jet flights between West Yellowstone and Salt Lake City to connect passengers with Delta flights.

The Delta Connection flights, operated by SkyWest, will begin in June. The airline says it will run flights twice a day from Thursday through Monday and once each day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

John Carrel / Flickr Creative Commons

Warmer-than-normal winter temperatures may be to blame for bringing a grizzly bear out of hibernation early in Yellowstone National Park. The park confirmed a report of a grizzly eating a bison carcass on Feb. 9 in the central part of the park in Wyoming.

Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park will require an overnight backcountry permit fee starting May 1.

The National Park Service says the money raised from the new fee will help pay the costs of running the park's backcountry program.

Under the new fee, anyone obtaining a permit to stay overnight in the backcountry between Memorial Day and Sept. 10 will have to pay a per-person, per night permit fee for all individuals 9 years of age or older.

USFWS Mountain-Prairie / Flickr Creative Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Yellowstone National Park to allow public access to an area near Gardiner where captured wild bison are being held for slaughter.

An attorney for the ACLU said in a Friday letter to Yellowstone Administrator Dan Wenk that the closure of the Stephens Creek facility and surrounding areas of the park violates the public's right to observe the capture activities.

The civil liberties group represents wildlife advocates from the Buffalo Field Campaign and freelance journalist Christopher Ketcham.

Jim Pasco / Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is reporting a record high number of visitors in October.

Just over 194,800 visited the park in October, surpassing the previous October record of over 189,000 set in 2010. 

There were over 3.4 million recreational visits to Yellowstone in the first 10 months of 2014, an increase of over 10 percent over the same period last year.

With two months left in the calendar year, 2014 is already the second-highest visitation year on record. The park's peak year was 2010, when there were over 3.6 million visitors.

Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

A German citizen who crashed a drone into a lake in Yellowstone National Park this summer has been banned from the park for a year and was ordered to pay $1,600 in fines and restitution.

Andreas Meissner of Koenigswinter, Germany, was charged with four federal misdemeanors after a drone he was using to shoot video of a charity bicycle ride through the park crashed into Lake Yellowstone on July 18.

Law enforcement at Yellowstone National Park is investigating the death a woman who worked there.

Park officials say 21-year-old Kassandra "Kassie" Wieferich was found dead Tuesday night in the Old Faithful Lodge area.

Officials started searching for Wieferich, a park concession employee from Twin Bridges, Montana, on Tuesday after she missed shifts at work and failed to meet a family member on Monday afternoon.

The Park Service didn't announce the discovery of her body until Wednesday to allow notification of her family.

Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

A new U.S. Geological Survey report indicates a slightly greater earthquake hazard in the Greater Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho than previously thought.

And the USGS map of seismic hazards shows that the region is as seismically hazardous as anywhere in the United States. 

University of Utah geophysicist Bob Smith tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the nationwide USGS earthquake hazard maps and adjoining documents were last updated in 2006.

Yellowstone National Park, Bison, Lamar Valley
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Yellowstone National Park administrators are recommending the removal of roughly 900 bison next winter through hunting, shipments to slaughter and for research purposes.

The proposal represents about 19 percent of the park's wild bison.

Officials say removing the animals will relieve population pressures that periodically push large numbers of migrating bison into Montana during harsh winters.

Wildlife advocates say a better approach would be allowing bison into areas outside the park where they are now barred.

Jim Pasco / Yellowstone National Park

Rangers have not been able to spot the unmanned drone that crashed and sank in a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park last weekend. A tourist flew a drone into the hot spring despite a park ban on drones.

Park spokesman Al Nash says rangers are considering using a helicopter to see if they can spot it from the air.

Even if they find it, Nash tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that it's not known if the drone can be removed from the Grand Prismatic Spring.

Yellowstone, Old Faithful Inn
Yellowstone National Park / Flickr Creative Commons

Yellowstone National Park is looking local and organic for its food service menus.

The park's striving to make 50 percent of its food purchases from within 500 miles of the park or from a certified organic provider by 2016.

Today, about 34 percent of the park's food is local or organic.

But park concessionaire Xanterra finds that supporting local growers while keeping prices low in the nation's first national park can be a challenge.

Dylan Hoffman is director of sustainability for Xanterra.

How Red Squirrels Could Be Changing Western Forests

Jun 23, 2014
squirrel, fire, forests
David Maher / Flickr Creative Commons

The patchy recovery of lodgepole pine trees after the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fire could be due in part to the effects of squirrels.

Research from the University of Wyoming finds red squirrels could be having an impact on how lodgepole pine forests evolve.

Yellowstone NPS / Flickr Creative Commons

Seismographs have picked up a swarm of earthquakes in the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park, including dozens early Tuesday.

The University of Utah Seismograph Station reported five small earthquakes including those with magnitudes of 3.4, 2.7 and 3.2 in a 20-minute period starting at 3:33 a.m. in an area 16 to 18 miles south of Gardiner.

Kim Keating / U.S. Geological Survey

State wildlife biologists have started trapping grizzly bears in southeastern Idaho as part of a scientific study and are advising visitors to heed orange warning signs at major access points.

Gregg Losinski of Idaho Fish and Game in a news release on Tuesday says the trapping has started and will run through Aug. 26.

Losinski says the trapping will take place within the Island Park Caldera and the Centennial Mountains of Idaho.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Montana wildlife commissioners have initially approved a proposal allowing landowners to kill up to 100 gray wolves annually if the predators pose a perceived threat.

Thursday's action significantly expands the circumstances under which wolves can be killed without a hunting license. In the past, that was largely limited to instances in which wolves attacked livestock.

Under the new rule, shooting wolves would be permitted whenever they pose a potential threat to human safety, livestock or domestic dogs. State lawmakers last year passed a law requiring the expansion.

Scientists say a voracious species of trout that entered Yellowstone Lake and decimated its native trout population appears to be in decline following efforts to kill off the invading fish.

Non-native lake trout were first found 20 years ago in the 132-square mile lake in the center of Yellowstone National Park. Crews have since caught and removed more than a million of the fish in hopes that cutthroat trout populations would rebound.

On Tuesday, scientists from the park and Trout Unlimited said those efforts are finally showing progress.

Yellowstone NPS / Flickr Creative Commons

Ten entities have submitted proposals to take bison from Yellowstone National Park that came through an experimental program to establish new herds of the animals.

Applicants include wildlife agencies in Utah and Minnesota, three American Indian tribes and private conservation groups in Montana, Nebraska, New York and Colorado.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks released details of the proposals on Monday. Spokesman Ron Aasheim said the agency hopes to relocate the roughly 135 bison by the end of November.