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Tour Guide accuses Yellowstone Park Rangers of “Gestapo tactics”

Tour Guide accuses Yellowstone Park Rangers of “Gestapo tactics”

Foreign tourists locked in hotel under armed guard thought they were under arrest.

Yellowstone National Park is among a number of popular destination closed by the National Park Service as a result of the scale-back.

Some tourists and a tour guide are complaining about rough handling by park rangers of tourists in the park at the time of closure.

A New Hampshire tourist, along with many foreign tourists, were in Yellowstone National Park when the “shutdown” went into effect, and were met with armed park rangers who detained the group to the extent that the foreign tourists thought they were under arrest.  The rangers stopped them from taking photos, and told them they were not allowed to “recreate” while in the park.

The Newburyport (MA) Daily News reports on the trip (h/t realmyiq2xu).

Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.

Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country. Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1.

For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.

The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.

When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.

When the seniors exited the bus, they were not allowed to take pictures of a herd of bison:

The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos.

Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.”

The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said….

The Livingston (MT) Enterprise interviewed the Tour Guide:

The tour director, Gordon Hodgson of Utah, learned his group would not be allowed to walk on any of the boardwalks located just outside their hotel, or visit any other geyser basins in the area.

Hodgson said the group was scheduled to spend two nights at the Inn. When they got up on Tuesday morning, they headed out to see Yellowstone for the day, planning to return to the Inn for their second night’s stay later in the day. Hodgson said they headed north out of Old Faithful and pulled over to let passengers out to take photos of bison.

Hodgson said in a phone interview Monday that a ranger pulled up behind the bus and told him he would have to get everyone back on the bus — recreation in Yellowstone was not allowed.

“She told me you need to return to your hotel and stay there,” Hodgson said. “This is just Gestapo tactics. We paid a lot to get in. All these people wanted to do was take some pictures.”

Hodgson said the ranger told him he could be convicted of trespassing if he disobeyed.

I don’t think this was “Gestapo” tactics, but it was rough treatment considering people already were in the park. Since the Park Service knew some scale back in funding was coming, more orderly plans could have been made to deal with people in the park and to ensure their exit in an orderly and respectful manner.


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Henry Hawkins | October 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Lock and load, baby.

Every single one of those park rangers need to be fired. How dare they enforce the whims of a Chicago thug. Will they shoot the tourists the next time? That would be just great for the tourism industry. Maybe the public should shut down the parks to prevent these thugs from getting to their posts.

    serfer1962 in reply to showtime8. | October 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Showtime…The park service has identified themselves as enemies of Americans.

    Know who they are & where they live when its time for retribution

      Know who they are & where they live when its time for retribution


      I don’t think that’s called for. Do you think you might be over-reacting a little bit here?

        serfer1962 in reply to Amy in FL. | October 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

        Amy in FL…when the shooting starts, it will be by the government hit men in various uniforms. There will be no mercy from these people as witnessed by the hundreds of bullets on an unarmed women in DC.
        On duty they represent a powerful force…at home they are as we are when they attack us…one.

The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said…


Can’t have that “recreating” going on…nosiree.

Now, if some gay men were NOT recreating in the Yellowstone roadways…nola problama…

    JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to Ragspierre. | October 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Presumably if the visitors had been illegals, there would have been no problem either.

      Bingo! It was a Japanese internment, to go along with closing the WWII Memorial.

      Hussein should apologize. The foreigners were detained against their will by armed guards. There was no crime, nor a safety issue. This is an outrage!

      Americans, on the other hand, can go fly. Right Barry?

I was wondering where the bastard found the idea to do this!

“March 1941: Germans begin to “Aryanize” Jewish property.

The Jewish Council is given authority over all Jewish organizations.

Jews can no longer travel without a special permit from The Jewish Council, can not participate in the stock exchange, can not hold cultural posts, or enter public parks.”

9thDistrictNeighbor | October 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I am utterly astounded at how quickly some rangers have descended into tyranny. Our slope has been slippery for some time; perhaps people are only beginning to notice as they fall.

    I absolutely agree.
    It is coming to a point where one must choose sides.
    The Rangers have Careers, Families, etc. just like the rest of us, and if they refuse to march as ordered, they jeopardize all that, balanced against doing the right thing.
    Doing the right thing doesn’t pay the bills.
    In fact, doing the right thing would likely get them prosecuted.
    In many ways, they are enslaved.
    But this example is an absolute outrage. I feel we are being pressed. It looks like a very dangerous time.
    At what point will violent reaction break out?
    If you had invested say, $10,000.00 for a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Yellowstone, and had this happen, might you lose your cool?
    I have to observe that the victims of this have been apparently very civil. Thus far. Personally, I do not know if I could have kept my trap shut.
    And it is just a matter of time before our luck runs out on that. Somebody will snap.
    Then what?

    When you reach the point where you are terrorizing citizens taking legal pictures in national parks in exchange for a continued paycheck, you need to pull your head out of your @ss and start refusing to play along. You don’t get to say “I was only following orders” when you damned well know those orders are designed to punish citizens.

How many park rangers does it take to screw up a shut down?

That park ranger needs to practice saying:
“I was only following orders.”

Try it with a German accent for effect.

The Rangers are federal officers and they were only following orders. However, the biggest loser in the entire shutdown so far has been the National Park Service. The NPS is coming off like a group of thugs even though in most cases they are apologetic for running people off.

    serfer1962 in reply to Musson. | October 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Musen…The NPS swears an oath to the CONSTITUTION! Not some BLACK gay muslim weanie throwing a tantrum fit!

    And whatever happened to Sick Leave?

      some BLACK gay muslim

      Why did you capitalize BLACK? His race is a non-issue. He’d be just as much a weenie if he were white. And someone like Allen West would also be BLACK, but wouldn’t be pulling something like this. So leave off the race thing. It’s ugly.

      Also, the “gay muslim” descriptor is a little weird as well. Even if he were gay, even if he were Muslim, what would that have to do with anything?

      Honestly, there’s plenty to legitimately criticize Obama for without getting this personal.

If this wasn’t ‘Gestapo Tactics,’ I shudder to think what qualifies short of gunning down the tour group with sub-machine guns.

I understand the need for that disclaimer by the Professor in this post but I don’t have to be concerned with being backlash-branded as being bellicose.

The officers who aggressively pushed their authority in this situation are nothing more than hired federal thugs with a badge.

I am personally acquainted with an Arizona-based national park ranger and he would *never* have treated those guests in such a manner no matter what his superiors authorized him to do.

    LukeHandCool in reply to VotingFemale. | October 8, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    You give some people a little law enforcement authority and the intoxication of having power to order people around makes any latent bullying streak they may have surface immediately.

    Strong-arming senior citizens is really a disgrace.

      Ragspierre in reply to LukeHandCool. | October 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Especially Canadians and Japanese.

      Talk about your shooting fish in a barrel…!!!

      There only defense is high-capacity magazines of polite.

        so why should they be allowed to bully Australian citizens on that tour? Why make a distinction with the others?

        Besides the Japanese can come to Australia instead and there will by no bullying over here.

      Conservative Beaner in reply to LukeHandCool. | October 8, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      You take a mortal man
      And put him in control
      Watch him become a god
      Watch peoples heads a ‘roll
      A ‘roll, a ‘roll

      Sympony of Destruction

      If you only knew the power of the dark side.

      Darth Vader

    Phillep Harding in reply to VotingFemale. | October 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I believe I have posted comments here about how undesirable it is for the various alphabet agencies to have their own police forces, not answerable to the public?

    “Oh, no. They need armed officers to enforce the rules!”

Henry Hawkins | October 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm

It is really hard to believe the Obama crew doesn’t understand how bad the optics are on this sort of stuff. It makes me wonder if they aren’t floating a sort of trial balloon, along the lines of “Hey, let’s see how much strong-arming the peasants will take before they kick back. Useful knowledge for, um, you know, later.”

    Obama is so accustomed to the Liberal Media backing up his BS, he must believe he can get away with anything without being held accountable by a majority of Americans.

    I think the Liberal Media machine is over-burdened at this juncture and it’s only going to get worse as the full realization of just what a train wreck Obamacare truly is comes across to Obama-voting believers of his media-backed lies.

    serfer1962 in reply to Henry Hawkins. | October 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Henry…it could also be a test of how or how many to rely in the coming days…

Only Mom-pants Barry would use park rangers as shock troops. Park rangers used to be widely respected by Americans for doing the job of caretaking our precious national parks. Now, for the next decade or so, park rangers will just be seen as willing thugs of a lawless and vindictive executive branch.

In our national parks at this time of year, the natural selection “rangering” season takes place as rutting male and female bull rangers battle weaker, older recreators for dominance.

I think this ranger interpreted one too many loop trails.

    Federal park rangers have earned enduring scorn from the public, regardless of who they hold responsible for the shutdown.

    Sucks To Be Park Rangers

      LukeHandCool in reply to VotingFemale. | October 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      To think I once aspired to becoming a park ranger.

      The social media technology is there for them to organize.

      They need to stand together and refuse to carry out these purely politically derived punitive measures against the public.

      The public would back them up 100% and they’d regain their reputation and honor.

Time to disarm the NPS Rangers. That will tend to make them less haughty.

    We have NPS Rangers approach us while we are lawfully engaging in recreating with our firearms on federal land. For understandable reasons they’re always friendly, courteous and respectful.

    In the Arizona Sonoran Desert, good guys with guns look out for each other. We would come to their defense should relations with a Mexican drug cartel take an ugly turn for them.

      Subotai Bahadur in reply to VotingFemale. | October 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Are they still “good guys”, and since we cannot depend on them coming to our aid, should we come to theirs?

      Subotai Bahadur

I keep sending my cousin (Who is an NPS Park Ranger) these articles.

Regardless of the official position, the actions of a few spoil the whole, like rotten apples in a barrel.

I admonished her to be careful of her own actions if she has to deal with the public, since stories like these give the Park Service a huge black eye.

    serfer1962 in reply to Paul. | October 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Paul…this is the same situation with the police, they refuse to do anything about their rogue agents. If the NPS or police do nothing about these scum, then the ALL become advocates.

    Phillep Harding in reply to Paul. | October 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Two down votes?

    Yeah, I’m wondering if they are going to have an ambush problem. Nothing personal, just the uniform.

    Ketchikan’s Ward Lake was shut down for a short time, but opened up again when people started organizing a protest.

    Miss Belle Bellicose in reply to Paul. | October 9, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Are all Park Rangers female anymore? Every time I hear about one of these rangers mouthing off, it is a female.

National Park guides will henceforth be known as “Fuehrers”?

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to Paul. | October 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Actually, to be historically accurate it should be:

    Sturmführer = Lieutenant
    Truppführer = Sergeant
    Scharführer = Corporal
    Mann = Private

    The tour guide can’t file suit for false arrest, unless he never wants to work around a national park/forest again. I would love to see one of the foreign tourists file suit for false arrest.

    And I do wonder if the Parks Service [and other parts of the Federal government] have sworn the Reichswehreid in place of the oath to the Constitution.

    Subotai Bahadur

This is sheer madness. This is tyranny. I don’t know why the masses just don’t rise up and revolt. Mark my words, Obama is keenly aware of how easily the sheeple can be manipulated and herded into submission … and one day, this will come back to haunt us.

As Jefferson said, when the government fears the people there is liberty, and when the people fear the government there is tryanny.

    serfer1962 in reply to walls. | October 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Walls…it is happening. Remember the 2 mil bikes (actually only 1.2 mil)? Well they are joining the Truckers Monday to plug up DC for a couple of days.
    And also the Bikers protest was defined as “We come in peace…this time”.
    If squishy Boehner can dig in then the real news isn’t too good for The Won…

    Phillep Harding in reply to walls. | October 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Eric Hoffer covered that. No one revolts when tyranny is laid down, they always revolt when things start getting better.

    (His early books are worth reading, what he wrote on the federal dime is not so good.)

    aoibhneas in reply to walls. | October 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    How many citizens are even aware of what is actually going on, given that the media continues to serve as suppositories up choom’s bunghole? Seriously, where I live in South Florida, Obama continues to be praised and Cruz vilified. Cruz and Boehner are called traitors by the scumwads at msnbc and I see the same ideas parroted on Amazon forums, where Obama continues to have great support for his agenda. There is something seriously wrong with the population and its morality and lack of knowledge or perhaps sheer stupidity in continuing to buy the Precious Princess Barack’s lies.

I sat next to a woman on a plane who was mad at “the government” for the shutdown, but after a few moments it was entirely clear that she blamed Republicans for the shutdown.

This is what the Democrats and Obama are counting on and why they are making this government shutdown “as painful as possible”. They know the average uninformed person (which pretty much inlcudes every liberal) will blame Republicans.

    Radegunda in reply to Miata Shinsen. | October 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I hope you took the occasion to educate her. A few simple questions will do:
    “Did you know that Reid and Obama are openly saying they won’t compromise at all?” “Did you know that the House represents the citizens and isn’t required to obey the Senate leader?” “Did you know that Reid and Obama have specifically rejected measures to fund the services that citizens want most, because they say it has to be everything they want or nothing?”

    I heard a newsreader in Australia blame the Republicans. This is ridiculous because I know that it is the Democrats who are orchestrating this mess.

Mach das noch mal und Ihre Kameras konfisziert werden! Löschen Sie Ihre Speicherkarten! Schluss mit dem Spaß! Holen Sie sich zurück in den Bus! Schnell!

    Paul in reply to JohnC. | October 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Tramslation for those who don’t speak German:

    “Mach das noch mal und Ihre Kameras konfisziert werden! Löschen Sie Ihre Speicherkarten! Schluss mit dem Spaß! Holen Sie sich zurück in den Bus! Schnell!”

    Do that again and I’ll confiscate your Camera!
    Erase your Memory Cards! Stop with the Fun!
    Carry it back to the Bus! Move Quick!

The government demonstrated greater restraint under Occupation, and active support for invaders, than respect of its senior citizens.

    n.n in reply to n.n. | October 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Speaking of invaders, would it be sufficient for an invading force to reproduce in order to take over this nation? If so, does the “anchor baby” concept render the Constitution, sovereignty, and, in fact, a rule of law meaningless? The whole idea of jurisdiction rests on either voluntary or involuntary compliance. A selective or ambiguous rule of law is effectively anarchy or a dictatorship.

Silly me. When they said they were reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone, I thought they meant Canis lupus.


The locals have had enough, AND TEAR DOWN THE BARRICADES!!

Ted Cruz needs to stand at one of these memorials or parks and insist,

“Mr. Obama, tear down these barricades!”

“The ranger” this and “the ranger” that. Geeez, how about getting the NAME of the ranger and broadcasting it all over the media? How about holding her personally accountable for her overreach of power and the funds these people lost because of her abuses?

    janitor in reply to SafeTea. | October 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    At the risk of reaping gender bias allegations, I point out that women as a group, when given this kind of authority, seem to be the most unbending “follow the rules” types (when they’re not overly shrill and threatening because they are nervous about or unsure how to easily wield power.)

NC Mountain Girl | October 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm

It is no accident the NPS are now Bambi’s Brownshirts.

Fists, they have always been a law enforcement agency because the national parks are federal reservations on which the state and local authorities have no jurisdiction. Second, the agency has historically been structured along hierarchical and authoritarian lines. This is particularly true of Yellowstone, which is a self contained enclave that almost functions like the duchy of the NPS superintendent. Third, its warm and fuzzy image has insulated it from the kinds of scrutiny other policing agencies often receive. Fourth, NPS employees share a problem common to all stewards over time they come to think they own what they have been charged to protect.

All of these have been made worse by the shift in the NPS mission away from providing a nature experience to as many people as possible to that of protecting, restoring and expanding wilderness areas in the parks. We are in the process of learning that a NPS workforce trained as police combined with the self righteousness of many who work in environmental related areas is not a good combination.

    “It is no accident the NPS are now Bambi’s Brownshirts.”

    This may be literally true.

    Radegunda in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | October 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    My view of the NPS changed (and not for the better) when I learned about their role in turning as much of the country as they can into human-free zones. Not just your friendly park guides anymore.

“Foreign tourists locked in hotel under armed guard thought they were under arrest.”

It sounds like they WERE under arrest. The word “arrest” just means “stop”. In a legal sense, it means stop and detain. Locking someone in a hotel or anywhere else and using armed guards to keep them there sure sounds like legal “arrest” to me, even if they try calling it something else.

Henry Hawkins | October 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Yogi Bear and Boo Boo were Tea Partiers who outsmarted the NPS at will. I just wish I had a nat’l park closer to me, because I too am smarter than the average bear.

The Obnoxious A$$ has forbidden military chaplains to hold worship services on military bases. Now that’s a bridge beyond chutzpah.

I hope every hotel and school near these bases will open their doors to the chaplains to provide alternate worship space.

Now he’s cancelled the therapy dog program for sick kids, which was run by VOLUNTEERS.

Because he can, and because he’s just that petty and vindictive.

A_Nonny_Mouse | October 9, 2013 at 3:27 am

Amy in FL @ 6:38 —

Let me amend your statement: “…this is one of the best arguments I can think of as to why I don’t want Obama in charge.” {of anything, period!}

So the park rangers are essential! It is essential to keep the citizens off OUR land! This is treason.