Washington

Visitor misbehavior abounds as US parks agency turns 100

  • In this Aug. 3, 2016 photo, a large bison blocks traffic in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park as tourists take photos of the animal. Record visitor numbers at the nation's first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone's storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

    In this Aug. 3, 2016 photo, a large bison blocks traffic in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park as tourists take photos of the animal. Record visitor numbers at the nation's first national park have transformed its annual summer rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy, with selfie-taking tourists routinely breaking park rules and getting too close to Yellowstone's storied elk herds, grizzly bears, wolves and bison. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Aug. 3, 2016 photo, Yellowstone National Park tourist John Gleason moves in on a large bull elk as two of his children and two children of friends follow the Walla Walla, Washington man. The animal ran away as the group got closer. Park officials say visitors getting too close to wildlife can create dangerous situations and has been on the rise as visitor numbers hit record levels. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

    In this Aug. 3, 2016 photo, Yellowstone National Park tourist John Gleason moves in on a large bull elk as two of his children and two children of friends follow the Walla Walla, Washington man. The animal ran away as the group got closer. Park officials say visitors getting too close to wildlife can create dangerous situations and has been on the rise as visitor numbers hit record levels. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Aug. 3, 2016 photo, tourists take photos of elk outside Yellowstone National Park's Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Elk frequent the grass outside the hotel, where park administrators say visitors routinely violate park rules that require them to stay a minimum 25 yards from the animals. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

    In this Aug. 3, 2016 photo, tourists take photos of elk outside Yellowstone National Park's Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Elk frequent the grass outside the hotel, where park administrators say visitors routinely violate park rules that require them to stay a minimum 25 yards from the animals. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)  (The Associated Press)

Record visitor numbers at the nation's first national park have transformed Yellowstone National Park's annual tourist rush into a sometimes dangerous frenzy.

Photo-snapping visitors routinely break the rules, getting too close to elk, grizzly bears, wolves and bison.

Officials say the rule-breaking puts visitors in harm's way, damages resources and displaces wildlife.

Law enforcement records obtained by The Associated Press suggest such problems are on the rise.

Yellowstone rangers are seeing more wildlife violations, more people treading on sensitive thermal areas and more illegal camping.

It's an illustration of the pressures facing America's most treasured lands as the National Park Service marks its 100th anniversary. From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Grand Canyon, major parks are grappling with vandalism, theft of resources and other misbehavior.