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Fatal shooting of girl, 3, at Yellowstone National Park investigated

September 08, 2013|By Matt Hamilton
  • Lower Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park.
Lower Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park. (Brian Sirimaturos / St.…)

The National Park Service is investigating the fatal shooting of a 3-year-old Idaho girl at a Yellowstone National Park campground, officials said Sunday.

The child’s mother told emergency dispatchers that her daughter shot herself with a handgun, park officials said in a statement.

Saturday's shooting occurred at the Grant Village Campground, where an emergency medical team tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the girl, the statement said.

Further information, including the girl's identity, will not be released until Monday at the request of the victim’s family, park spokesman Al Nash told the Los Angeles Times. 

No one had been shot to death in the park since 1978, he said.

"We have a pretty small number of fatalities in the park every year, and an awfully high percentage are health-related … like heart attacks," Nash told The Times.

Carrying guns in national parks and federal wildlife areas is permitted as long as federal, state and local laws are obeyed. That policy came about because of the 2009 credit card reform bill, to which Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered the gun provision as an amendment. The Senate passed the bill, 90 to 5. The measure also passed the House, and President Obama signed it. The law took effect in February 2010. 

But firing a gun "except in rare circumstances" and hunting are both banned in Yellowstone, according to park literature.

Yellowstone, the first national park in the U.S., spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and predates their statehood. Each year, more than 3 million people visit the park.

Federal authorities have jurisdiction in the park. Any legal proceedings related to the shooting would be handled by Yellowstone’s on-site court system, Nash said. 

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