Yellowstone National Park: Man Who Guided Illegally and Charging Outrageous Amount Gets Week in Jail

by Madison Miller

After spending some time leading several fake Yellowstone National Park tours, a man is spending some time behind bars.

Theodore Eugene Garland, a 60-year-old from Edmond, Oklahoma, decided to become a tour guide, despite no knowledge of how to respect a national park. He then charged these individuals large sums of money for these illegal tour guides. A permit is required to lead a guided tour.

Man Sentenced for Illegal Tours

Now, a local judge sentenced the man to one week in jail. He must also pay a $1,100 fine. The judge only banned the man from the park for the rest of 2021, which seems rather lenient.

According to Independent Record, the man led visitors in several illegal activities that were harmful to the national park. This includes trespassing in thermal areas as well as cliff-jumping in an area considered off-limits. The man also altered the natural flow of a river by creating a pool for these visitors to swim in. Garland also created different “hot spots” in rivers and encouraged the disturbance of wildlife.

All in all, he had 15 counts against him in court for illegal activities and violations of park regulations.

However, he was only found guilty of seven and acquitted for some of the others. One of which included disturbing a black bear while it happened to be feeding.

He was caught after posting a video on Facebook of a group cliff-jumping in Firehole Canyon. A Yellowstone National Park law enforcement ranger happened to see the video and started to investigate.

According to NPS, Theodore Garland has a social media page, a podcast, and a guidebook that all had information related to his illegal activities. A part of his court-mandated requirements is that he has to write an introduction in his guidebook that communicates shared respect for the national park. He also has to take out any references toward illegal activities. Garland will serve five years of probation.

Other Illegal Activity in Yellowstone National Park

In August of 2020, three men learned that it is in fact very, very illegal to boil chicken in the Yellowstone hot springs.

A park ranger caught the men in the act and they pleaded guilty to several infractions in the national park. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the result was two years of probation and fines between $500 and $1,200. They are also banned from the national park for the duration of the probation period.

It is illegal to leave the designated trails in Yellowstone when near the hydrothermal features. It is incredibly illegal to put anything inside them, especially two chickens each wrapped in a burlap sack. Hydrothermal areas have unique and fragile ecosystems.

“I don’t intend to be a naughty person. I don’t intend to be a troublemaker,” one of the convicted men said to The New York Times. He believed double bagging the chickens would be a way to remove any chances of contamination.