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Chicken a la geyser taken off Yellowstone menu

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SEATTLE (AP) — A local television show is in hot water with Yellowstone National Park officials after its host and pro ducer dug a hole near a geyser to show how the natural heat could cook chicken.

Chastened show crew mem bers say they were a bunch of dumb clucks.

KING-TV's “ Evening Magazine” host John Curley and his producer re-enacted a story they had heard of early tour guides showing off the geysers' heat by cooking meat for visitors, said Mark Erskine, KING's executive producer of local programing.

Yellowstone officials didn't see the show, but concerned viewers called the park after the segment aired Feb. 12.

Park officials fined the show $150 and placed it on a two-year probation for disturbing miner al deposits in a national park and stepping off trails near steaming geysers.

“ It was an error in judg ment,” Erskine said. “ He proba bly should have thought a little and realized that's why they stopped doing it.”

“ It's very dangerous to step off of boardwalks or estab lished pathways because the ground in the thermal areas is very thin,” said Marsha Karle, Yellowstone National Park spokeswoman. “ You can easily step through and get into hot water — in more ways than one.”

For violating terms of their park commercial permit, any “ Evening Magazine” camera crews returning to the park before 2003 must be accompa nied by a uniformed ranger and will be billed $50 an hour, Karle said.

Last week, “ Evening Magazine” broadcast an apology, and the show's Web site posted a warning that the stunt was dangerous, illegal and “ just plain dumb.”

The 20-second segment was taped Jan. 15 after three days of shooting in the park. The show aired in KING-TV's Northwest market and on affiliated cable channels.

“ It did happen, and we do take blame for it,” Erskine said. “ I just don't want ignored that it was a half-hour show based on the park's natural wonders and the environment.”

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