According to a press release issued by the Death Valley National Park in California, two tourists from Switzerland were in a campervan on October 28 when the driver saw the spider and slammed on the brakes. That caused a man on a motorcycle, who’d been riding behind the van, to crash into the back of their vehicle.
The motorcyclist was taken to a nearby hospital. The spider, according to the park’s statement, “walked away unscathed.”
While tarantulas are just one of the many wild animals found in Death Valley – the country’s hottest and driest national park – they are not the most frequently spotted.
As the park’s press release explains, the arachnids spend most of their time living underground, only emerging to find mates. Fall is the most common season for them to come above ground.
However, the park urges Death Valley visitors not to panic if they see an eight-legged creature.
“Tarantulas are slow-moving and nonaggressive. A tarantula’s bite is reported to be similar to a bee sting, and is not deadly to humans.”
There have been other human-animal encounters in America’s national parks over the last few years, but most of them were the result of people trying to get close to animals instead of away from them.
Earlier this year, staff at Yellowstone National Park were forced to euthanize a bison calf after a visitor tried to pick up the animal.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of “feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife” and was fined $500.
Last week, a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway national park in North Carolina was closed after multiple incidents of “visitors feeding and attempting to hold a young bear.”