South Sound deputies warn search-and-rescue calls stretching law enforcement

Warmer temperatures and its call to nature means more people are venturing into the wilderness that makes the Pacific Northwest so special. But, hikers and visitors who find themselves in trouble are straining rescue crews and their budgets.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office says just one type of rope their teams use during some rescue attempts can cost around $1,500 and can never be reused.

The agency’s close proximity to the Olympic National Forest and the hazards within it means repeated calls for help become costly. One area known as High Steel Bridge is sometimes popular by hikers and search and rescue crews called in to help. In some cases, hikers end up needing after entering locations restricted from the public.

"If they go into those areas the chances of them getting hurt or killed is very high and it happens multiple times every year," said Chief Ryan Spurling.

Deputies and search and rescue crews are also put in danger. Two were injured last year.

If you plan to venture into the wild, deputies insist hikers take proper precautions and preparations, including packing a first aid kit and appropriate clothing should hikers become stranded.

"People overestimate their ability to navigate the terrain, disregard the signs and they end up getting in over their head," said Spurling. "It’s a lot of tragedy for families when things go bad."

The agency is also considering legal action in an attempt to recover costs should calls for help continue rising.


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