Ranger Kathryn's Arches

September 29, 2011

What?!? Feed the chipmunks?!?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:50 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I was at the stunningly beautiful Delicate Arch in civilian clothes on my day off, introducing visiting friends to this icon of the park and of Utah. A 60-ish man was eating a small packet of gummy fruits and a beggarly chipmunk heard the rattle of the wrapper and approached him.

-- google image --

“Please don’t give him any,” I pleaded. The reply was coupled with arrogance: “Oh, I already did.” I felt my fists clenching, which frightened me, and I decided it was time to breathe before saying something I would regret forever. I realized that this man had already made up his mind that a minute of his own entertainment was worth far more than big concepts like animal health, visitor safety, ecosystem balance. Even if he knew it carried a fine (which I’m sure he didn’t consider), there was no law enforcement ranger around to write a ticket.

I wasn’t in uniform. My badge is the only thing that carries weight; still, I couldn’t resist trying. “Human food is terrible for their diet. We wouldn’t want them to become lazily dependent on handouts of junk food.” He paused and then replied under his breath, “One of us wouldn’t.” I had to walk away. Really. Just get myself out of Ranger Mode and pretend to be a tourist, taking photos, enjoying the arch and the exquisite day.


  1. K,
    ON one hand you have the reality of your little friend – possibly a Hopi Chipmunk (T. rufus) and his diets both natural and unnatural, and on the other you have your larger friend – possibly H. sap. – and his interpretation of the first reality. In his world, chipmunks exist for tourists to feed and anything (anyone) getting in the way of that interpretation is to be ignored or dismissed.
    Some realities can be changed and others cannot. It’s your job to figure out which is which and take the appropriate action. ;-?
    Best of Luck,

    Comment by Leroque — September 29, 2011 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  2. i think you should have pulled rank and informed him that you were a park ranger. a little public humility would have been fun to dish out…

    Comment by john — September 30, 2011 @ 9:03 am | Reply

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