Yellowstone, National Park – In a recent court ruling, Viktor Pyshniuk, a 21-year-old resident of Lynwood, Washington, was sentenced to seven days in jail for thermal trespass at Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Pyshniuk was also handed a two-year unsupervised release and a two-year ban from YNP for violating park closures. Additionally, he was fined $1,500, with an extra $50 in court fees.

Act of Trespass at Yellowstone National Park Caught On Tape.

The incident occurred when a YNP law enforcement officer responded to a report of a trespasser at Steamboat Geyser, located in the Norris Geyser Basin. A park employee had witnessed Pyshniuk crossing the fence and walking dangerously close—within 15-20 feet—to the geyser’s steam vent. The employee captured a photo of the incident, which showed Pyshniuk had clearly left the designated boardwalk area. When confronted, Pyshniuk admitted he had left the boardwalk to take photos. The officer then explained the dangers and illegality of his actions, highlighting the hazardous nature of the thermal area, which includes weak ground layers, geothermal mud pots, and heated steam and water.

Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Hambrick, who imposed the sentence on June 4, emphasized the importance of deterring both the defendant and the public from such actions. She expressed concern that Pyshniuk’s behavior could set a dangerous precedent for other visitors, potentially leading to widespread rule violations and significant damage to the park.

Acting United States Attorney Eric Heimann underscored the seriousness of the offense, stating, “Trespassing in closed, thermal areas of Yellowstone National Park is dangerous and harms the natural resource. In cases like this one where we have strong evidence showing a person has willfully disregarded signs and entered a closed, thermal area, federal prosecutors will seek significant penalties, including jail time.”

Steamboat Geyser, known as the world’s tallest active geyser, is also one of the most unpredictable and dangerous. It can erupt to heights ranging from six to 300 feet, with intervals between eruptions varying widely from three to 89 days, as per the YNP website. Judge Hambrick noted that the three-foot fencing around the boardwalk serves as a clear indicator that the area is off-limits.

This case was thoroughly investigated by Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ariel Calmes.

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