Another unforeseen result of the recent shutdown is a significant increase of elf-controlled regions on federal lands. According to internal U.N. National Park Service (NPS) documents, the hardest hit areas are extensive wildlands such as Yellowstone National Park and the Denali Preserve.
“The elf infestation rose to critical levels during the shutdown beginning last December,” writes Senior Regional Coordinator of Extraordinary Environments Sofia Alameda, in a report Laserflail obtained through a Freedom of Information Act filing. “In the absence of continual vigilance and the maintenance of proven preventative practices, elves were able to recapture a significant portion of land from which we had previously driven them back.”
Data included in the report shows an expansion of elf-domiciled territories by at least 53%, though the exact amount of growth is difficult to measure, given the propensity of elves to remain hidden unless they wish to be seen. It may be some time before officials determine the true extent of elf proliferation, which could be much larger than expected.
The largest expansions occurred in with deep, dark, wild woods, according to the report. However, some of the smaller and higher-trafficked parks have also seen an increase in elf activity.
With the expansion also comes a greater number of clashes between park visitors and elves. “Rangers and other frontline personnel are ill-equipped to deal with escalation of encounters between extraordinary beings and mundane individuals,” Alameda wrote in her report. “Consultants should be retained immediately, and training is essential for our less experienced staff, many of whom have never encountered elves before.”
The most common encounters are annoying but relatively benign pranks, such as the theft of small items or tangled hair. More serious mischief includes bewitched foodstuffs, re-marking of trails, changeling swaps, and retribution for failing to carry out what one carries in.
More worrying than the recent expansion is the prospect of another shutdown, which could lead to even further enlargement of elf-dominated territory. “The time could come,” warned Alameda, “when no visitor to our national parks is safe from the wiles and whimsy of extraordinary beings.”