Yellowstone assessing damage to hot spring from video-makers
Yellowstone National Park rangers have not been able to contact or locate a group of Canadian men accused of walking onto a sensitive hot spring, and it's possible they have returned to Canada, a park official said Wednesday.
"It looks like from their social media feed that they were already back in Canada when the warrants were issued, but it is just really hard to say," Yellowstone spokeswoman Charissa Reid said Wednesday.
Rangers filed a criminal complaint Monday against three members of the group known as High on Life SundayFundayz for leaving an established boardwalk and stepping onto a geothermal feature where they snapped selfies and took video of themselves last Saturday. Several of group's members are from Vancouver, British Columbia, and have a clothing line that they promote.
The group initially posted pictures and video of their trek out on the Grand Prismatic Spring on social media, but all images that showed the men were later deleted.
The group posted an apology on its website and social networks, expressing regret for their actions and offering to donate up to $5,000 to the park.
In response to messages seeking comment about the matter, an email from one member of the group said they were not able to talk Wednesday and referenced the group's posted apology.
The criminal complaint names Charles Ryker Gamble, Alexey Andriyovych Lyakh and Justis Cooper Price-Brown. A witness provided pictures and video of the incident to rangers that show four men going about 25 yards off the boardwalk, according to the complaint.
Only three were charged because rangers were still trying to positively identify the fourth person involved, Reid said.
It wasn't immediately clear how the legal process will proceed if the men are back in Canada.
John Powell, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne, was out of the office Wednesday and unavailable for comment, according to the office.
Reid said Yellowstone officials are still assessing what damage may have been caused by the men walking onto the hot spring.
Hot springs have sensitive wet, soft bacterial mats that play a role in the colors associated with the spring, she said.
"When people walk on them it actually makes like white footprints in the bacterial mat," Reid said. "Not only does it damage the bacterial mat but it also means that other people may be tempted to walk the same path."
Yellowstone distributes literature to visitors and posts signs around geothermal features warning people not to stray off boardwalks and paths.
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