Yellowstone Webcam Catches Men Using Old Faithful as Toilet

  • Published on May 13th, 2009

old faithful webcamA webcam installed last year to broadcast live streaming video of Yellowstone National Park’s iconic Old Faithful Geyser around the world was instrumental in the arrest of six vandals last week. As seen in photos released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a group of six trespassers ventured off the visitor boardwalk; two apparently urinated and one dropped a rock into what is arguably the world’s most famous geyser.

Outraged by what they saw on their home computers on the evening of May 4th, viewers of the Old Faithful webcam contacted park officials who then dispatched park rangers. The trespassers were apprehended as they returned to the boardwalk twenty minutes later.

According to PEER, the webcam footage shows that several of the “cone walkers” appeared to urinate on the geyser cone and that two of them are seen digging around the geyser catch basin, one of whom looks to have dropped a rock into the geyser itself. This is believed to be the first time webcams have been used in a National Park for this type of legal action.

webcam stills of vandals at old faithful

In 2000, the Park Service placed a moratorium on all new webcams pending development of a strategy that addressed a broad spectrum of issues. Nine years later, a comprehensive webcam strategy has yet to be developed.

“We are on the threshold of cyber-parks where spectacular vistas can be viewed from the nearest screen, even one in the palm of your hand,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch in a statement.

“Technology can have both good and bad effects and that is why we have urged the National Park Service to carefully plan before they start installing the latest gadgets,” Ruch added. “If a tree falls in the forest, we will not only be able to hear it, but we can watch it topple and then run the video backward.”

The six individuals caught on tape, all of whom were employees of the park concessionaire, were cited by park officials and will appear before a magistrate on May 19th where they face possible fines and jail time.

Images courtesy of PEER
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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.
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  • Steve

    Well, peeing in it is certainly disrespectful but probably won't hurt the geyser. Dropping a rock into it on the other hand is very bad because that kind of thing will eventually block up the geyser – several thermal features have already been ruined that way. I'm not too surprised that they were concessionaire employees – I'd have to say that some of those folks seem to mainly spend their time getting drunk and one wonders why they chose to work in Yellowstone in the first place.

  • spedman

    My friends and I did the very same thing in 1978 and some people turned us in. The Ranger was laughing so hard it made the folks that turned us in so mad.We got $10.00 tickets.I Old Faithful is still working fine.

  • scoutmom

    These young men must believe that the rules don't apply to them. The boardwalk and railing are there for the protection of the geyser and the protection of the visitors as the water is scalding hot. Had they been burned by the geyser, I'm sure they would have filed a lawsuit against the National Park system seeking recompense for their stupidity. They

    were OBVIOUSLY never taught that there are also consequences for their actions and need to learn the hard way. I imagine they are expecting a 10 minute "time-out", but I hope they get the maximum penalty for doing their deeds. Perhaps they should be assigned to cleaning all the vault toilets and flush toilets at Yellowstone for the entire summer season. Whoops…I see an overflow coming….Quid Pro Quo!!

  • Brandie Sump

    I also worked in Yellowstone at old faithful for two seasons. Nothing as stupid like this happened then but I believe everyone is blowing it out of proportion just like when the metamusol commerical came on and we saw a fake ranger pour metamusol into Old Faithful and people started an uproar. Pee doesn't do anything to the gyser so please get over it and keep loving the parks.

  • Laurie

    The boardwalks are there for a reason in areas where the visible ground may not be stable. These guys are just plain stupid, in addition to being disrespectful and possibly destructive. I hope they are banned from using any national park. I imagine they were all intoxicated.

  • Such a lack of respect is hard to imagine…that anyone would not honor the beauty of nature and preserve it for future generations. Sad that we need cameras to protect parks.

  • Barbara Cohea

    Never, ever underestimate the stupidity of your fellow humans. Once again, I find myself embarrassed to admit I'm a member of the human race. Ouch!

  • Bill B

    "Get over it"!? These idiots urinated on a national landmark, on camera even. You can "get over it" if you want. I hope the throw the book at these idiots. Then send them over to take a big dump in your back yard, since its no big deal.

  • heidi dudley

    Thank you to the viewers who observed these idiots vandalizing Old Faithful and surrounding geysers.I worked there two summers and have a great appreciation for our parks,and it is sad when people desecrate things for entertainment!

  • Kevin R

    "We live in Wyoming and appreciate YNP as a national jewel but also as our magnificent backyard. My 10 and 12 year-old consider this act vandalism while I think urinating in these guys’ backyards in broad daylight may give them a sense of our violation."

    Do you have a sense of violation about the huge oil and gas fields that are being drilled in publicly-owned land in the eastern part of WY? Or does that not count as your backyard?

    These guys peed in a guyser. OK, so it's not cool. It's also not harmful. Get over it.

  • People taking advantage of the beauty that surrounds us. Who would have thought technology could provide such a thing. Someone was watching online, they contacted authorities, and the folks were apprehended all within minutes. How cool is that.

  • julianne baker

    how about just urinating on the vandals–or in their mouths? That is about as gross as what they did. i don't care if there is a 'club'. this is stupid and vicious. And we think we are more enlightened than in the early years of the park when people threw handkerchiefs and other items into the features.

    of course, with the web cam, as well as their behavior, one could question the intelligence of these guys…

  • Wendy McCroskey

    We live in Wyoming and appreciate YNP as a national jewel but also as our magnificent backyard. My 10 and 12 year-old consider this act vandalism while I think urinating in these guys' backyards in broad daylight may give them a sense of our violation.

  • They wanted to join the IPOF Club – "I Peed in Old Faithful" (it's only a "club" in the same sense as the "Mile High Club," of course). So if you're wondering why someone would pee in a geyser, that's why. The IPOF club has been a Yellowstone legend for, oh, decades.