Here is a fun and interesting example of what human fed ravens did one day in Yellowstone.
One morning, as I was sitting in the Cody, Wyoming’s, Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s garden with Isham, our red-tailed hawk, a visitor told me this true story about an observation he had in the parking lot of one of Yellowstone’s geyser areas. As he and his wife headed for the basin, they saw a couple of ravens come in and land on a couple of BMW motorcycle seats. The ravens began examining a pack on one of the bikes. Then one of the ravens unzipped the pack, and began to go through its contents, throwing packages of food out onto the pavement, until it found one that had something in it that they wanted. The fellow I was talking too took a number of photos of the ravens and their activity. As they entered the geyser basin area, they saw a couple of men dressed in motorcycle leathers, and stopped to ask if they had a couple of BMW bikes out in the parking lot. When they said yes, my visitor told them that a couple of ravens were raiding their pack, and eating their food. The bikers said it couldn’t be their bikes, until my visitor showed them his photos, then the bikers took off at a run.
Yet another indication of just how intelligent these birds are. If fed by humans, they will soon learn that they can forage for human food all on their own. As stated in the above warning, this type of diet is very unhealthy for the birds. One must also remember, that in the winter time, this source of food will also not be available.
In every visitor's information packet three things are included a newspaper of current events, a map and of course a warning. It states that Buffalo can weigh 2000 lbs (900 kg) and that they can sprint at 30 miles per hour. In summation do not try their patience.
Many visitors have been gored by animals. It's not just the buffalo either. Bear elk and moose also can seriously injure humans. You may want to get just a little bit closer to get the best pic but you must use caution.
Yellowstone has an abundant and diverse number of wildlife roaming the park. This is not a zoo, so don't treat it as one...wild animals (especially females with young) are unpredictable, so keep a safe distance from all wildlife (each year a number of park visitors are injured by wildlife when approaching too closely).
Approaching on foot within 100 yards (91 m) of bears or within 25 yards (23 m) of other wildlife is prohibited (don't feed the animals)...when viewing wildlife from the road, use the roadside pullouts to prevent traffic jams. The use of binoculars or telephoto lenses provide safe viewing and avoids disturbing them...and probably the most important thing that you should remember, If you cause an animal to move, you are too close!!!
Ok, I'm a big fan of wildlife, but the park does try to warn visitors to keep there distance from these wild creatures. Just because their big and seem quite docile, there are not! Many visitors have found out first hand by being gored. I've worked on a ranch, and seen how these creatures can fool you. They are faster than a horse and can jump a 6 foot metal fence, if not plow right through it and keep running on for miles.
Wildlife, such as elk can be dangerous.
Rule not to forget! The park rules state that you must stay at least 25 yards away from large animals such as moose and elk.
When a visitor does not obey the park rules, and instead gets too close to wildlife, it is not only the visitor that sometimes looses, but often the animal also. Because of tourist behavior that provokes wildlife a number must be killed each year.
The bulls and cows may look docile, but they are unpredictable, and can run much faster than you can. Plus bulls, such as the one in this herd, may weigh an average of 700 pounds, and the sharp points on their antlers make excellent weapons, as you will see in my next tip.
My second photo shows a bull elk near Madison Campground standing over a female.
We came across bison quite a few times during our drives in Yellowstone and noticed that they had little regard for traffic on the highways or people getting out to photograph them. However, they can have a short fuse and we saw several cases where tourists were really getting too close to them for their own safety. According to Wikipedia: “Bison are among the most dangerous animals encountered by visitors to the various U.S. and Canadian National Parks, especially Yellowstone National Park. Although they are not carnivorous, they will attack humans if provoked. They appear slow because of their lethargic movements, but they can easily outrun humans—they have been observed running as fast as 35 miles per hour (56 km/h). Between 1978 and 1992, nearly five times as many people in Yellowstone National Park were killed or injured by bison as by bears (12 by bears, 56 by bison). Bison are also more agile than one might expect, given the animal's size and body structure.”
The bison shown here in the Lamar Valley was stirring up a dust cloud as he prepared to wallow in his little patch of dirt. This is to perhaps help with shedding his hair or relief from skin problems related to biting insects – nobody really knows why they do it. One of their other characteristics is that they simply ignore car traffic and walk across the highways at their leisure, or just lie down beside the road for a bit of rest (as shown in the two other photos).
We were enjoying watching the fairly large group of Mountain Goats browsing away in an upland field when I saw this goat change its behavior. There were quite a few cars stopped in a nearby large parking area and a lot of spectators were milling about taking photos of the goats. Some people were actually getting quite close to the herd when this goat raised his head and took a look at them. The heavily muscled goat then maintained his head in this position as he stared at them and began to walk directly toward the group that was getting close. The people soon got the message and backed off. Mountain Goats don’t usually attack humans but they do fight quite a bit amongst themselves, believed to be attempts to drive some members from the group so it stays at a size the local vegetation can sustain.
Feeding wildlife is never a good idea, and can alter the animals' behaviour. They learn to view humans as a source of food, lose their fear of people, and can become aggressive in order to obtain food from them. Obviously, the bigger the animal the greater the danger that comes with that. Bears that have developed a taste for human food may need to be put down as they may attack people in order to raid their picnic provisions.
But not feeding wildlife really extends to ANY wildlife, regardless of how cute and cuddly their little furry faces may look. First of all most likely the food is not good for them in the first place, and secondly even little squirrels or chipmunks can make a nuisance of themselves, if they think they are entitled to your packed lunch.
I was once at the receiving end of an animal taking away my food, when in Kenya a baboon jumped on my lap to grab the loaf of bread that I was holding. That was quite scary, and could potentially be very dangerous, if for example a child doesn't let go of the food and gets bitten by the animal. Some rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service had witnessed the incident and said that they will need to put the baboon down, as it wasn't the first time that he has done that, and might teach the other animals to do the same.
So by not feeding any wild animals you may actually save their lives!
Most of the time the animals seem calm and docile, and possibly this fools people into thinking that they are nothing more than oversized cows. I was stunned by the number of people who got out of their cars to take a photo of a bison from close-range, with the most stupid thing being a guy waiting in the middle of a road with a huge bull walking up to him from behind, so that his friend could take a picture of him and the buffalo, when the bull was nearly level with him.
Also, you should not follow the example of the guys in the picture, who left their car by the side of the road to approach a buffalo that was resting in a field.
The required distance you are supposed to keep from bison and most other animals in the park is 25 yards / 23 metres), but unfortunately this is very often ignored, resulting in many visitors being gored by bison every year.
The week I was there - two people were gored by buffalo. One woman was at Yellowstone Lodge talking on the phone and did not even know there was a buffalo, I have great sympathy for her. The other was a *** trying to get pictures.
In the pictures - the car is located right behind where the buffalo picture is. I was driving and did not want to stop to get the picture of both of them together.
As I was coming into the park there was a woman standing in the middle of the road holding up traffic to get a picture of a buffalo less than 25 feet from the side of the road, like the edge of the road was going to save her. No - if it charged, she was dead and possibly others she had held up.
As I went a little further there was a man in an SUV stopped in the middle of the road with a buffalo less than 2 feet from it. Um - Buffalo vs SUV - Buffalo wins hands down. He was a ***.
We did have our own encounter - but it was not one we sought out. More on that in another link.
Yellowstone National Park is filled with many wonders and also dangers. The real dangers are wild animals, hot geysers, hot mud fields, and waterfalls. You must be cautious at all times.
On the lighter side is the droppings of animals. The buffalo chip, as it is known, is as large as a dinner plate and can be quite a mess, even when dried out. To get close to buffalo, as safe as possible is about 50 feet away for great runners, lol, but look out for the chips and I don't mean potato.
One of the things that is stressed about wild life in Yellowstone is to not feed the buffalo, deer, or bear that roam the Park or even the tourist lunch stops. They have a safety bin that allows trash and throw away food to be put into without wild life being able to get to the leftovers. The containers are heavy metal and cannot be pushed over by animals. The wild life could come very close to people and they are not tame, no matter how friendly they may look. Just beware and keep your distance as well as do not carry food on your person that could attract the wild animals to you. Stay safe, both for you and the wild life.
Well, I am glad to see that mother nature had her way. The buffalo are back and looking pretty good. But.... you do have to drive very slowly and very carefully, so that they stay alive. Many buffalo cross over, walk along, and stop right in the middle of roads.
It is hard to see them before you are upon them in many areas of Yellowstone, due to the winding roads and steep dropoffs that buffaloes can climb to dart across the road. I jumped out of my car to warn motorists rounding a bend that buffalo were crossing ahead. Some of the buffalo leapt onto the road from the steep dropoffs.
If you ever saw a buffalo up close, you know that it is a mighty huge creature, one not to reckon with. So, be careful to keep your hands on the wheel of your vehicle, your foot near the brake pedal, and your eyes wide open on the road ahead. We don't need more buffalo jerky or a badly damaged vehicle.
Bison, also called buffalo, can weight 2000 pounds (900 kg), and although they may look slow and docile, buffalo can run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hours, and at distances over a mile. They can outlast a racehorse. This is over three times faster than a man can run. As are all the wild animals in Yellowstone, buffalo are very unpredictable and dangerous. Do not approach these animals just to get a photograph. You do not want to visit the small hospital in the park, or get an unplanned helicopter ride to a major hospital, and I do not want to read about you in our local newspaper, the Cody Enterprise. It seems like we read about some visitors getting gored every year. Remember the rule is to stay at least 25 yards away.
There was a story in our local newspaper, the Cody Enterprise, about a mountain biker being attacked by a grizzly bear as he rode over Togwotee Pass near the Tetons in Wyoming. (Tetons are just south of Yellowstone.) Kirk was riding along near the wilderness area that is core grizzly habitat in the Yellowstone ecosystem. He saw the bear charging him, got off his bike, and began yelling, Bear! Bear! His friend who was some distance back heard him, but could not see him, so he speeded up. Kirk lunged his bike out at the bear. The bear stopped, then moved in again and charged six or seven more times, being deterred at the last moment by the bicycle. Finally the grizzly grabbed the bike out of his hands and started stomping on the bike. Kirk began to creep away, but the bear immediately left the bike and put its front paws on him, pushing him to the ground. Kirk managed to turn onto his chest, and the bear sat on him. His friend arrived on the scene. He had bear spray and advanced to within 15 feet of the bear and began to fire the spray. The bear got off of Kirk and began to circle the friend who was still spraying the bear's face. Although the bear's eyes were full of bear spray he continued to circle the friend. Almost running out of the spray, he yelled at the bear as hard as he could. They were lucky; the bear suddenly stopped the charge and took off, miraculously no one was seriously injured or killed. The two said that they were going to a store right away and purchase cans of bear spray. A follow up story stated that the bear spray was old, therefore weak, or even ineffective.
If you are going to hike in the backcountry purchase bear spray, and replace it when it reaches the expiration date. It is recommended that if you are unsure of the expiration date, you should change it yearly.
The photo shows a grizzly that we saw digging and turning over stones looking for food in the fall of 2007.