Toddler shot to death in Yellowstone

Toddler shot to death in Yellowstone


By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – The first child to die from gunfire in Yellowstone National Park in three-quarters of a century was a 3-year-old girl killed over the weekend by a bullet shot from her father’s handgun at a popular lakeside campsite, park officials said on Sunday.

Little information was released by authorities about the toddler’s death since her mother called emergency dispatchers on Saturday to report that her daughter had shot herself at the Grant Village campground on the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

Emergency personnel were unable to resuscitate the child, whose name was being withheld until Monday at the request of the family, who are from Idaho, park spokesman Al Nash said.

The death comes three years after enactment of a federal law that lifted a decades-old ban on the possession of firearms by visitors to most national parks, including Yellowstone.

It marks the first fatal shooting in Yellowstone since 1978, and the first shooting death of a child in the park since 1938, when the 13-year-old son of the park’s master mechanic accidentally shot himself in the head with a rifle, Nash said.

A portion of the forested campsite where the shooting occurred remained cordoned off on Sunday as Yellowstone rangers and special agents with the National Park Service continued their investigation of an incident that Nash described as “the kind of thing that isn’t supposed to happen here.”

Park officials revealed the girl’s age on Sunday and said the weapon was a pistol that belonged to her father.

Authorities have declined to say whether investigators believe the shooting was accidental or deliberate.

The Grant Village campground in Yellowstone, which spans nearly 3,500 square miles of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, sits in the Wyoming section of the park near a developed area that contains a ranger station, lodge, shower facilities and other amenities.

It remains unlawful in most national parks including Yellowstone, celebrated for natural wonders like the Old Faithful Geyser and for an abundance of wildlife such as bison, elk and grizzly bears, to hunt or to fire a gun.

The legislation allowing visitors to carry guns in the parks was tacked on to a credit card bill passed by Congress in 2009 and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The measure was backed by gun-rights proponents like the National Rifle Association, but opposed by groups representing park rangers and retired National Park Service employees.

Supporters said it would provide uniformity to a patchwork of firearms regulations that allowed guns in public lands overseen by the U.S. Forest Service and federal Bureau of Land Management, but not in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Opponents said the law would heighten risks for visitors and park employees, embolden poachers and complicate prosecution of wildlife crimes.

Recent Headlines

in National

Police arrest gunman after fatal siege at Colorado abortion clinic


Police arrested a gunman who stormed a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Colorado Springs.

in Black Friday, Lifestyle, National

Black Friday crowds thin in subdued start to holiday shopping


America's annual Black Friday shopping extravaganza was short on fireworks this year.

in Sports

The weekend sports schedule


From the Associated Press, here’s a look at some of this weekend’s major sporting events. All times are listed in…

in National

Making headlines this week

Santa Claus participates in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)

A look at some of this week's biggest newsmakers and the headlines you may have missed.

in Sports

Cowboys’ Romo ‘done for season’


Dallas Cowboys veteran quarterback Tony Romo will miss the rest of the National Football League season after re-injuring his collarbone for the second time in 10 weeks, according to an ESPN report.