Yellowstone Treasure Hunter Found Guilty of Reckless Disorderly Conduct

by Kati Kuuseoks
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Treasure hunting sounds fun in theory. Sure there’s quicksand and bears, steep cliffs, and poisonous snakes… On second thought, maybe not. Still, “Indiana Jones” makes it look so easy. A real-life treasure hunter actually embarked on his own quest to the Yellowstone National Park back in August of 2018, but it didn’t really go as planned. There were certainly no whips or mummies (that we know of) but the story does involve a helicopter.

The treasure hunter continues to stick to his guns saying, “I don’t believe at any point I made a bad decision.” The court doesn’t see it that way, though. They just found him guilty of “Reckless Disorderly Conduct” and now he has to fork over thousands of dollars to Yellowstone. Here’s why.

Yellowstone Treasure Hunter Gets Lost Racks Up a Hefty Bill

Mark Lantis is the name of the treasure hunter who ventured into Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park with one specific goal in mind. He wanted to find and unearth a 13-century treasure chest hidden by an eccentric millionaire known as Forrest Fenn.

When he began his hike on August 2nd, he had intended to be gone for just the day. So, he dressed lightly in just jeans, a T-shirt, and a windbreaker. He barely packed any supplies including food or water. Before getting lost, he journeyed on the marked trails. However, after seeing signs of a bear, he ventured off-trail. Lantis soon found himself in quite the predicament. He was lost. Eventually, he succumbed to calling for help which involved a chopper.

In 2019, a court ordered Lantis to pay the fees of his helicopter rescue and Yellowstone banned the treasure hunter for five years. Lantis tried to make multiple appeals, but an appellate court just upheld that decision, meaning Lantis must now fork over $2800. The judge had some pretty stern words:

“Mr. Lantis ensured he would be lost in the dark in an area of the Park with a substantial grizzly bear population without adequate clothing, food or water in wet and cold conditions. Such conduct is not simple negligence, but recklessness of the highest magnitude.” 

Is the Treasure Still There?

If you’re looking to whip out your metal detector and pack the van for a road trip, don’t bother. Sources say a man named Jack Stuef actually found the treasure last year after thousands attempted to do the same. At least four people even died in their searches. But what compelled them to search in the first place?

Well, the eccentric millionaire Fenn actually wrote a memoir titled “The Thrill of the Chase.” In it, the art dealer and antique collector disclosed that he had hidden a treasure chest filled with gold and jewels somewhere in the mountains. He encouraged the public to search and so they did.

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