New Federal firearms law takes effect for Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone subject to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming firearms laws
by Yellowstone National Park
February 25, 2010
A change in federal law effective February 22, allows people who can legally possess firearms under federal, state, and local laws, to possess those firearms in Yellowstone National Park .
The new federal law makes possession of firearms in national parks also subject to the firearms laws of the states where the parks are located.
Yellowstone spans portions of the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. All three states allow open carry of handguns and rifles on one’s person or in a vehicle. They all also allow concealed carry of firearms with a permit.
While the state boundary lines are posted along park roadways, they are not posted along trails or in the backcountry. Each state has somewhat different firearms regulations. Those possessing firearms are responsible for knowing which state they are in, and are subject to the laws of that state.
Visitors who may wish to bring firearms to the park are encouraged to do their research ahead of time to ensure that they are aware of and abide by the laws that apply. Additional information is available online at http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm.
The new federal law has no affect on existing laws and regulations regarding the use of firearms in national parks or hunting. Hunting, or the discharge of a firearm in Yellowstone National Park continues to be prohibited. Other weapons such as bows, air rifles, and slingshots may be secured and transported through the park, but may not be taken on trails or into the backcountry.
Federal law continues to prohibit firearms in certain facilities, such as park visitor centers and federal office buildings. These facilities are posted with appropriate notices at public entrances. Firearms should not be considered a wildlife protection strategy.
Park regulations require visitors to stay 25 yards away from most wildlife, and 100 yards away from bears and wolves at all times.
The best defense is to stay a safe distance from wildlife, and use your binoculars, spotting scope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look. Hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, and keep an eye out for animals. Bear pepper spray has proven to be a good last line of defense if you keep it handy and use it according to directions when animals are within 30 feet.