Montana Public Radio


About 400 people came to a hall at the Park County Fairgrounds in Livingston to learn more about the Yellowstone River fish kill
Eric Whitney

About 400 people turned out at the Park County Fairgrounds in Livingston last night to get the latest on the Yellowstone River fish kill from Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks department. 

FWP staff told the crowd that there’s still a lot they don’t know about how widespread the parasite is that’s killing mostly mountain whitefish in the Yellowstone River and its tributaries, but they’re working hard and expect to know more soon.

The recent fish kill in the Yellowstone River is painting a picture of Montana in national headlines that’s a little different than what the state’s office of tourism advertises in promotional videos.

The recent fish kill in the Yellowstone River is painting a picture of Montana in national headlines that’s a little different than what the state’s office of tourism advertises in this promotional video.

"Where the mountains thrust skyward and giant pyramids of granite and the rivers run as free and clear as your spirit. A place where you can hear the sound of silence."

After thousands of fish deaths forced an unprecedented closure of 180 miles of the Yellowstone River last week, an official with Montana's Office of Tourism says the state’s branding as a place of pristine landscape is still strong.

Yellowstone River, MT
Wormwould (CC-BY-NC-2)

A microscopic parasite killing tens of thousands of fish forced state wildlife officials to close a portion of the Yellowstone River Friday morning.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks closed about 180 miles of the Yellowstone River downstream from Yellowstone National Park without a timeline for reopening. The closure could last months.

Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park has never been more popular. Visitation numbers peaked in July, when more than 800,000 people came.

A mix of phenomenally good weather, a strong marketing campaign for the centennial year of the National Park Service and Glacier’s eye-catching presence on social media fueled the record-breaking numbers of tourists.

Park regulations require people stay at least 25 yards from all wildlife including bison, elk and deer and at least 100 yards from wolves and bears. Disregarding those simple rules can lead to to fines, serious injury or death.

A Yellowstone National Park bison calf that tourists put in their car last week is now dead. Park officials are warning visitors to follow local wildlife and park safety regulations. They say too many people aren’t, and it’s causing big problems.

Quammen: Yellowstone At Risk Of Being Loved To Death

Apr 27, 2016
Yellowstone National Park. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River from Artist Point.
© Michael Nichols/National Geographic

The May issue of National Geographic Magazine is devoted to Yellowstone National Park: America’s Wild Idea. Bozeman-based writer David Quammen - who wrote the entire issue - talks Yellowstone history, and why the park is at risk of being loved to death.

A $50,000 investment of state tourism money is being rolled out today. It’s a map-based website that highlights and guides people to more than 200 trails across Montana. The site is called

Tourists Taking Photos at Sacred Dancing Cascades in Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park/Jacob W. Frank (PD)

Last year’s tourism numbers were up almost 8 percent over 2014. Almost 12 million out-of-state travelers visited Montana in 2015, but those tourists didn’t spend as much money as they have in previous years.

Yellowstone Sees Record Number Of Visits In 2015

Jan 12, 2016
Tourists fill the bleachers at Old Faithful waiting for the geyser to erupt.
YellowstoneNPS (CC-BY-2.0)

Yellowstone National Park had a record breaking number of visitors last year.  The park counted over 4 million visitors in 2015, placing new strains on the park’s capacity. With the unprecedented crowd also came long lines, a dearth of parking options and other visitor frustrations.