A national park warns visitors to stop doing this gross thing

“Picture this,” Yosemite National Park recently wrote on Instagram  (META)  in the style of Sophia Petrillo from the ‘Golden Girls.’ “Yosemite’s majestic wilderness, stunning vistas and surprise! Used toilet paper waving hello near Rancheria Falls — a full roll too.”

While there may have been the odd incident of someone intentionally TP-ing a part of a national park over the years, the behavior to which those running Yosemite’s social media refer is most often done by people who think they are helping the environment by burying the toilet paper they use on remote hikes into the ground.

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But while some may think that the thin nature of the paper means that it will dissolve easily, the reality is actually quite different. According to the National Park Service (NPS), toilet paper is “easily exposed by weather and erosion, and animals can dig it up and disperse it long before it decomposes. Some animals may even use it for nesting material (ew.)”

‘Nobody wants to stumble upon a surprise package left behind by an anonymous outdoor enthusiast’

For those unable to make their peace with using leaves, the NPS advises packing used toilet paper in a plastic bag and carrying it in a separate compartment of one’s bag until the appropriate waste disposal facility is available.

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“You can bring a sealable plastic baggie to stash it in, and even cover the bag in tape so you don’t have to look at it,” park authorities write further with one last reminder to “keep things classy.” “Because really, nobody wants to stumble upon a surprise package left behind by an anonymous outdoor enthusiast.”

With the summer peak park visitor period now well underway, the NPS has been putting out alert after alert about visitor mistakes that they encounter, both in odd incidents and as part of a wider trend. Amid climate change, parks in the southern parts of the country, already known for hot summer temperatures, have been reaching new peaks and catching visitors off-guard.

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Bad behavior around wildlife, heat waves: These are the things the NPS has been ringing alarm bells around

There have already been several cases of severe dehydration in Grand Canyon and Death Valley national parks — a couple hiking through the latter narrowly escaped death at the start of July after running out of water six miles into a hike. Camera footage shows the man covering his partner from the sun as she lay motionless on the hiking trail before being found by helicopter and airlifted for medical treatment.

The NPS has also been ringing the alarm about passengers who harass or otherwise act badly around wildlife. Last April, 40-year-old Clarence Yoder was arrested for kicking a bison at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. A recent video of a couple coming within just a few feet of two bison at the same park for a photograph has gone viral through the @touronsofinstagram Instagram page.

“Bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal,” the NPS wrote in a reminder on its website. “Bison are not aggressive animals but will defend their space when threatened. They are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans.”

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