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NAT’L – WILDLIFE – To protect wildlife, national park rangers use an unusual tool: radar guns

Some of America’s most iconic animals, from bison and bears to red-bellied turtles and the rare Hawaiian geese known as “nene,” are in danger every day from an unexpected angle: tourists crashing into them while sightseeing in national parks. Managing conflicts between millions of visitors and millions of animals is a constant balancing act for National Park Service managers, and the burden falls primarily on the tiny corps of law enforcement rangers who in many cases have become little more than traffic cops, trying to stop speeding cars from killing animals and human visitors alike. “Our biggest problem, and one that’s getting worse, is that people drive too fast,” said Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite National Park in California. “They’re hitting wildlife, and they’re specifically hitting bears.” Across the country, park rangers are spending more time managing traffic in national parks than on any other area of responsibility, which includes backcountry rescues, investigating assaults and combating poaching. Last year, about 1,800 rangers reported making more than 25,000 speeding stops at the National Park Service’s 419 parks, monuments, parkways and battlefields, according to an exclusive USA TODAY analysis of internal park service data. [full article]

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