Search and Rescue Dogs Called Out to Help Find Missing Yosemite Hiker
Two more Search and Rescue dog teams were being brought in to search Tuesday for a elderly hiker last seen at a waterfall in Yosemite National Park. Rangers are hoping the additional Search an Rescue dog teams will be able to cover a larger area and catch a scent of the missing man.
The hiker went missing early Sunday morning while hiking to the top of Vernal Falls. Officials say 73-year-old Kenneth Stensby, an avid hiker from Edina, Minn., left a note to hotel staff saying that he was hiking to the top of Vernal Falls and would return by noon. Hotel personnel got worried when he had not returned by 5pm and alerted park rangers. Park rangers went up to the waterfall area and found the hiker’s backpack near the railing to keep people away from the waterfall.
Park Rangers are conducting the search along the Mist Trail corridor, from Happy Isles to the top of Vernal Fall. To try and help pin point his last known location so that they can narrow the search the park service is asking anyone who hiked the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail to Vernal or Nevada Falls on Sunday to email their name, phone numbers, itinerary, and approximate time that they were at the top of Vernal Fall to firstname.lastname@example.org according to the Fresno Bee. Park Rangers have also asked that visitors check their cameras for photos of the missing man and anyone one with information about the missing hiker is asked to call (209) 372-0432.
Since 1999 Yosemite has had its own Search and Rescue dog teams of about twenty-five dogs and their handlers for searches within Yosemite National Park. Nick-named “YODOGs” at some point early in its history, this team of Search and Rescue dogs has some of the highest standards of any in the United States, for both dogs and handlers.
Many visitors to Yosemite see get to visit with the Search and Rescue Dogs, especially around park headquarters. Wile some visitors are surprised to see dogs at the park as dogs are generally not allowed off of developed areas. However Yosemite National Park and other National Parks across the country have found that using Search and Rescue Dogs is one of the best tools for making sure that search operations have the least impact on the park, its wildlife, and visitors’ enjoyment of the wild splendor. Dog teams find victims quickly. That’s to the victims advantage, of course, but it also minimizes the “footprint” of a search: helicopter flights, large groups of people combing the backcountry, the large and often intrusive arrangements to house and feed large teams are less necessary. For more information about the 25 Search and Rescue Dogs Teams that are a part of Yosemite Search and Rescue visit http://www.friendsofyosar.org/team/yodogs/aboutYODOGS.html