The typical job description of a Yellowstone park ranger explicitly states that meals are to be eaten before and after work hours only. The powers that be tell us, “The fact is, we are working with a shoestring budget these days, and we just do not have the ability for a lunch hour on the job.”
Park rangers don’t even have time to finish dealing with one incident before being called to another. A typical day could involve anything from tourists riding the bison and feeding bears Cheez-Its, to the park employees trying to cook their frozen dinners in hot springs.
Recently, a ranger was brought a lone bison calf that had been snatched from the Lamar Valley. The poor man thought he was up for adoption, and wanted to get his papers before taking him home.
Park rangers met on Tuesday to discuss finally allowing a two hour lunch break in the heat of the middle of the day. “There’s just nothing we can do. People won’t listen to us, and there are just simply too many tourists” said one long time ranger.
Our research shows there are only five full time rangers on duty on any given day inside Yellowstone National Park. Two of those work inside air-conditioned, not to mention well fed, offices in the park’s headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs. Two rangers work at Old Faithful, where the bison petting zoo is located. The last lone ranger is tasked with patrolling the rest of the 3,500 square mile wilderness.
As you may imagine, employment turnover is frequent in the park. Some rangers can’t make it through just a single day on duty. “This job just isn’t worth the $5.00 an hour wages” said one disgruntled, recently unemployed ranger.