A tarantula’s quest to find a mate led to a traffic accident in California’s Death Valley National Park, resulting in one motorist’s hospitalization and raising awareness among park officials. Two Swiss tourists abruptly braked their vehicle when they spotted the tarantula crossing CA-190 east of Towne Pass, a remote area situated nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, this past Saturday.
The National Park Service (NPS) issued a statement, revealing, “A 24-year-old Canadian man on a motorcycle then crashed into the back of the Swiss couple’s rented camper van.”
The injured motorcyclist was subsequently transported by an NPS ambulance to Desert View Hospital in Pahrump, Nevada. Remarkably, the tarantula remained unharmed.
Superintendent Mike Reynolds, the first NPS staff member to arrive at the accident site, emphasized the need for cautious driving, particularly on downhill stretches within the park. He underscored the continued presence of gravel patches on park roads due to flood damage and the prevalence of various wildlife species.
The NPS noted that tarantulas are most frequently sighted during the fall when male tarantulas leave their subterranean burrows in search of a mate. However, their efforts can be perilous as female tarantulas occasionally kill and consume their mates after copulation. Even if they survive this experience, male tarantulas have only a few more months to live, while females can enjoy a lifespan of up to 25 years.
It’s important to note that tarantulas pose no significant threat to humans, with their bite typically likened to a bee sting and not considered lethal.
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This incident adds to a series of mishaps this year involving tourists and wildlife in America’s national parks. In July, a 47-year-old woman from Phoenix suffered severe injuries after being gored by a bison in Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, in May, staff at Yellowstone had to euthanize a newborn bison following a visitor’s attempt to assist it in crossing a river, an action that caused the calf’s herd to reject it. In another incident, an 8-year-old child sustained minor injuries from a cougar attack in Olympic National Park in Washington state in July.