The pandemic has led to a surge of inexperienced hikers venturing into the outdoors, and that in turn has increased the pressure on search-and-rescue teams, as well as the costs.
Increasingly, U.S. states are looking for ways to penalize people who take unnecessary risks. But some question whether these laws might also discourage people from seeking help soon enough after putting their lives at risk because of an honest mistake.
“We don’t do it very often,” said Col. Kevin Jordan of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. “It’s got to be something that’s pretty wild, pretty out-there. But one thing I am pretty strict on is being unprepared, because those are literally the things that cost lives.”
Five other states — Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Vermont and Oregon — have similar laws allowing them to bill people for the cost of rescues in certain situations.
Hawaii has two bills pending that would allow search and rescue operators to seek reimbursement from people who stray from hiking trails or intentionally disregarded a warning or notice and then need to be rescued.
And South Dakota passed a law to help offset search and rescue costs. In March 2020, Gov. Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 56, allowing rescue agencies to charge each person as much as $1,000.
Published on: Article source