Jackson, Wyo. • Rangers have conducted nearly 90 search-and-rescue operations in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks so far this year.
An estimated 15 "major" and 20 "minor" rescues have occurred in Yellowstone, which covers parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, park spokesman Al Nash told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://bit.ly/1tkAohP ).
An operation is considered major when its costs top $500. Otherwise, it is considered minor.
In neighboring Grand Teton National Park, there have been 31 major and 23 minor search-and-rescue operations, spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. She said major rescues usually involve helicopters.
Grand Teton rangers usually see emergency situations more often than Yellowstone rangers despite Yellowstone usually receiving 15 or 20 percent more visitors annually. More than 3 million people a year often visit the park.
Yellowstone sees an average of 50 to 55 searches and rescues a year, Nash said. There are typically 65 to 70 in Grand Teton, with 25 to 30 of them labeled major, Skaggs said.
"I think it’s because of our accessibility," Skaggs said. "Grand Teton National Park is a much more accessible park — it’s easy for people to get to a trailhead and get to the more remote areas."
In both parks, summer is when most rescues occur. Around 80 percent of Grand Teton’s searches and rescues usually come during the busy season, Skaggs said.
Minor operations are routine for Grand Teton park rangers. For example, over the last week, there have been operations for a horse accident, lost or injured hikers, and kayakers stranded on the Snake River.
Both parks have seen fatal accidents this summer.
There has been a climbing death on the Grand Teton, a drowning in the park’s Snake River and a couple of solo hikers killed in falls.
Yellowstone has seen river drownings and fatal falls from cliffs, but no major operations tied to bears, bison or hot springs.
"Those remain very infrequent incidents," Nash said. "I think that’s in part why these things become so notable."
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com
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