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Three tourists fined after boiling chickens in Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs

Three men were fined and effectively banned from Yellowstone National Park after they were caught boiling two chickens for dinner in the park’s hot springs.

Yellowstone National Park is an American national treasure. Pulling hundreds and thousands of tourists every year (before COVID-19, that is), the park is home to many great lakes, a volcano, and a series of stunning hydrothermal springs.

This year, however, three naughty tourists took it upon themselves to use the Earth’s natural springs to prepare what can only be considered a fairly questionable meal.

yellowstone boiling chicken
Photo: dszc/Getty Images

In August, three men brought their camping gear, along with two cooking pots, to a remote part of the park. The men proceeded to dip the two raw chickens into one of the hydrothermal springs in an attempt to cook them (they had prepared the chickens in roasting bags and brine a few days beforehand).

The escapade was a fully planned succulent meal, but it really leaves us wondering what the heck they were thinking.

Apart from the hydrothermal springs being completely dangerous to humans, boiling a chicken in that extreme heat really can’t be any good. An average temperature to poach chicken is about 71-81 degrees celsius, which is comparatively less than the scalding temperatures of the springs at 204 degrees celsius.

Last week, the men faced court and were charged with a two year probation period and banned from returning to the park. Two of them had even previously spent a few nights in jail for the heinous crime.

In court, one of the men told the judge that the chickens were “for dinner”, but dinner or not, they still copped fines of $540-$1200.

It is illegal to go near the hydrothermal springs in the park, as the temperatures are fatal to humans, and any contaminants can ruin the spring’s natural ecosystems.

In an interview to the New York Times, one of the men admitted they were aware of the park’s regulations, which state that “throwing anything into the thermal features is prohibited,” but that they didn’t realise this included chicken.

“The way I interpreted it was don’t be destructive,” one of the men said, “and I didn’t feel like I was.”

Apparently, tourist shenanigans are not new to the park. According to Yellowstone guide and historian, Lee Whittlesey, American tourists are notorious for their foolish endeavours.

“It surprised me,” Whittlesey said. “When I place them within the larger milieu of American tourists, it probably isn’t that extraordinary.”

Tourists have been caught washing their clothes in the springs, and some have fallen in and been boiled alive. One hundred and twenty-two arrests have been made in 2020 alone for instances where tourists have violated the park’s hot spring laws.

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