Bear spray is recommended if you will be hiking in bear country, but it should really be a last resort. Ideally you make noise while hiking to warn bears of your approach and they will avoid an encounter with you. It is also recommended to hike in groups of 4 or more. I have done a lot of hiking in Yellowstone and in the Grand Tetons and actually never carried bear spray - possibly a foolish thing to do... but bear attacks are rare and usually they occur when a bear is surprised or a photographer approaches too closely. Mothers with cubs can be particulary dangerous if they feel you are a threat. On all my hikes I encounterd a black bear with cubs only one time on the Beaver Ponds Loop near Mammoth. I was leading a group of 12 people and had stopped to let stragglers catch up when someone said, "Is that a bear?" It certainly was and only about 30 yards away. She stared at us for a few minutes and we stood still and looked back. Eventually she moved off in same the direction we were heading and that is when we saw the 2 cubs bounding after her. We waited a good 10 minutes or so before we continued on. A few minutes later we saw the 2 cubs cross the trail in front of us... that could be a dangerous situation as you don't want to get between the cubs and mom. So, we waited again for 10 minutes or so... mom had been in front of them but we didn't know that and played it safe.
I'm not sure if she would have been aggressive or not if I had been alone. As a large group we were surely more intimidating... If you do carry bear spray you should make sure you know how to use it. For example spraying against the wind would be a bad idea... ;-) If you plan not to leave the roadside, bear spray should not be necessary.
There are more attacks and deaths caused by bison than by bears. People for some reason don't realize the danger they put themselves in when they approach bison and even elk and deer. I have seen people do some pretty foolish things in Yellowstone.
The majority of the animal related accidents in Yellowstone each year are not from wolves or bears, but elk. With bison as a close second. People think they are docile creatures, and that it is ok to get close, to try and pet them, to feed them. This is definitely not ok! These are still wild animals, and they will attack if they feel threatened. Any cursory search of YouTube will show you several videos of people being thrown, bucked, kicked, and gored. They can be life-threatening injuries, especially if kids are involved. Do yourself and your family a favor, give these animals the space (and respect) they deserve. It'll keep them wild, and make your park experience that much more rewarding.
Rule, not to be ignored! The park rules states that you must stay at least a football field away from bears. It is recommended that you do not go into the back country alone, wear bear bells or talk while hiking, and carry bear spray. All bears are dangerous, and the grizzly is especially aggressive and unpredictable. An adult male weighs 300 to 700 pounds and measures 3.5 feet in height at the shoulder. Females are smaller, but still weight from 200 to 400 pounds. One good way to tell a grizzly from a black bear, besides the size, is that a grizzly has a mass of muscle over their shoulders that resemble a slight hump. They also have a long dished nose. The fur of a grizzly can range in color from blond to dark brown, sometimes tipped with grayish silver. If you see these clearly, it probably isn’t going to matter to you what kind of a bear it is, but the claws on a grizzly are also larger than a black bear, and are long and curved.
If you break the rules you may be mauled, or killed. Also if you really enjoy seeing the bears, remember that each year bears have to be killed because of aggression towards humans. Unfortunately often the destruction of the bears becomes a necessity because of human carelessness or improper behavior around bears. If they lose their fear of humans due to easy access to food, or they are approached too closely, they become even more dangerous. This rule should be followed whether inside the park or out in the neighboring areas. When a bear becomes aggressive park rangers, or Game and Fish personal outside the park will often try to relocate the bear first. These bears often return, and if relocation does not work, the bear has to be destroyed. In 2004 by early October, six female grizzlies had to be destroyed in the Yellowstone area.
It is hard to escape the buffalo. They go where and when they want, whether it is on the road or a trail you are on. The park advises staying 25 yards away. I expect if the buffalo were so inclined 25 yards would not be enough.
The many bison just walk all over the road and completely ignore traffic. Everyone stops and takes pictures, and waits until they get off the road. It is actually very cool to watch a herd of bison walk down the road.
The thing you really have to watch for is deer and elk jumping out in the road when it starts getting dark. We almost had one run into the truck, but it turned around and ran away. I tried to not drive after the sun went down.
1. It may seem obvious to some people, but there are always people in Yellowstone who get injured or come close to getting injured because they get too close to the animals. Although many of the animals are somewhat used to people, they are still wild, so be cautious. A picture is not worth risking injury.
2. Do not feed the animals. It may be tempting to toss some food to animals that you see, but this creates problems for the animals, as well as the visitors. If people feed the animals, they will begin to depend on them as a food source, so they will begin to bother visitors or perhaps attack them.
3. Always pick up your garbage! Leaving garbage is not only bad for the environment, it also attracts hungry animals to the area. The animals are not usually dangerous, but it's not a good idea to test their boundaries!
See this stupid tourist! That is what we locals will think if we see you acting like this. Ok, you have read a few of my warnings by now. Time for a short Quiz: What is this woman doing wrong?
Answer: She is way too close to the wildlife! This moose, should he decide can easily take her and her camera out, and there is no way she could outrun him! You will see lots of warnings about the danger of the wildlife. PLEASE obey them for your sake, and the animals!
There are a number of roadside and driving rules in the park. Do not stop your vehicle in the middle of the road to view wildlife. Park in turnoffs if possible, or pull off on the shoulder of the road. You are required to be completely off the paved roadway. It is best to stay inside your vehicle. I must confess I have broken this rule a number of times, but I do pay attention to the park suggestion that if you do get out, you stay nearby your car so that you can get inside quickly if the animal approaches or charges you. The lady in the photo did not have a telephoto lens, so she simply marched across the field to get that closer view. I am glad to report that she got away with it this time, as the moose simply went on his way, but this doesn't mean you will be so lucky. Do not surround or block an animal's line of travel, chances are he will keep coming, so guess who is going to be run down? You! Do not run or make sudden movements as this may provoke an attack. Animals have even been known to attack cars, a bull elk or bull buffalo can sure do some damage to your vehicle. When one car stops, others will follow. Watch the other people in the area to be sure they are not putting you in danger by breaking the rules that you are smart enough to understand and obey. Take your look, then move on so that others may have your parking spot to enjoy viewing the animals also. Your consideration in this matter will also help to prevent traffic congestion caused by wildlife watchers, also known as as wildlife jams.
The elk in the following story got off easy. This story appeared in our Cody Enterprise newspaper on September 19, 2004. The article begins: Bull in Mammoth gores Texas visitor. Goring of a Yellowstone Park visitor who approached a bull elk too closely last weekend resulted in rangers removing the elk's antlers. The article goes on to explain that the Texas man walked to within 10 feet of the bull elk near the Terrace Grill in Mammoth Hot Springs. The tourist then took a flash photograph of the elk, then turned his back and began to walk away. The startled bull elk charged the visitor striking him head on with his antlers. The visitor was lucky, he got off with some cuts and bruises to his head, hands, and chest. The elk was lucky, in that he was not destroyed, rather he was captured and his antlers were cut off. This bull elk had also charged a park employee, and damaged six cars in the Mammoth Hot Springs area by attacking them with his antlers. Previously he had damaged six other cars in another area, with total damages to vehicles by this bull elk estimated to be between $12,000 and $15,000.
On your visit remember that elk gather at Mammoth Hot Springs and can often be seen lying in the grass. My photo, taken with a telephoto lens, is an example of this, in fact this may be the same bull described in the newspaper article, as the incidents described happened either on Sept. 18, or 19, and the photo was taken on Sept. 15, 2004. Keep a safe distance away, and if just stopping for that photo, stay close to your car.
Beware of buffalo on the road. Seriously, they are out in force on the road and if you are driving fast around a bend you could well come accross a whole pack of them. About a quarter of our time on the road was spent waiting for buffalo to clear so we could drive on.
When you enter Yellowstone, you will receive a flyer stating:
Warning- Many Visitors have been gored by Buffalo. Buffalo can weigh 2000 pounds and sprint ar 30 miles per hour (three times faster than you can run). These animals may appear to be tame but are wild, unpredictable and dangerous."
DO NOT APPROACH BUFFALO
The is a National Park, not a zoo or a farm! I was astonished how close people would go to the wildlife. This is their home, you are just a visitor. Please respect them! It is the animals that you are here to see, no? The rule is approach no closer to animals than 25 yards, with bears being the exception, approach no closer than 100 yards from bears.
A story I was told......Guy thinks it would make a fantastic photo for his kid to sit on a bison. Approaches bison, tries to put kid on bisons back. Kids gets hurt, Dad gets killed. One word IDIOT!
Besides humans, Bison are the most dangerous animals in the park. They are 2000 lbs. and can run way faster than you or I. One buck from them would send you flying.
A story from personal experience....A bunch of people , myself included were checking out some Bull Elk. This lady walks up to one, not even 10 feet away , turns her back and plunks down on a log so her husband can take a photo. A bunch of us were all telling her to move away from him, she hardly paid us any attention. One lady yelled "it is not a cow!" It was getting close to mating season, he could have been ornery, who knows? He was a big guy, best not to mess with him. Some people just won't take your word for it I guess. Very frustrating to watch.
Moral of the stories,be smart, be safe, be respectful and keep your distance. A good photo with your little point and shoot camera is not worth your life.
Pets are allowed in the park, and if you are nice like us, the Park Ranger will give you some doggie treats. Eventhough we are allowed in the park, there are some rules that need to be followed so that everyone has a wonderful time.
Park visitors should be able to enjoy native wildlife in their natural habitat without the disruption of pets, so having said that, here are things to be aware of:
1. Pets are prohibited in the backcountry, on trails and boardwalks.
2. Pets occasionally escape from their owners and generally lack the ability to survive in the wild.
3. Yellowstone is bear country...domestic animals (especially dogs) and bears are natural antagonists (a loose dog can lead a bear directly to you).
4. There is a strong possibility that your pet could become prey for a bear, coyote, owl or other predator.
5. There is a possibility of exchange of diseases between domestic animals and wildlife.
6. Thermal areas pose a serious threat to pets. Boiling water in pools and thermal channels can cause sever or fatal burns if your pet decides to take a drink or go for a swim.
Now we don't want to scare you, just make you aware!!! Pets may accompany you in the front country areas (this includes any areas within 100 ft. of roads, parking areas and campgrounds).
Pets must be kept under physical control at all times and if necessary may remain in your vehicle while you are viewing the attractions (be sure to provide sufficient ventilation). And one last thing, pets leave traces other than footprints, so clean up after them!!!
You'd almost think this was a petting zoo the way these tourists behaved with this bison. I couldn't believe my eyes! After all the warnings about the dangers of approaching bison, these people were either still ignorant or being really stupid. Granted, they came off of one of those big bus tours and the Tour Guide didn't seem concerned in the least.
I was observing this bison for about 20 minutes and taking photos before the bus arrived. It was grazing next to some restrooms at the trailhead to Uncle Tom's Overlook of the Upper Falls in the Canyon area. When the bus arrived, the passengers got off and walked by the area where the bison was. The bison lifted it's head and watched intently as people went by. Several stopped to take pictures which was fine - they were still a good distance away. Then this guy walks directly towards the animal to pose for this picture. I was ready to see a goring. More people are injured and killed in Yellowstone by bison than by bears. The tour guide of the group still said nothing. Luckily, nothing happened to this guy. A few minutes later a couple of women positioned themselves in front of the bison - also just a few paces away and turned their back on it. I guess that didn't really matter because if the bison had charged they couldn't have outrun it. Bison can sprint at 30 mph!
Have u ever imagined what it would be like to
have a face to face incounter with a angry buffelo ?
welp .... most chances are , that if u do , u wont live to tell about it on VIRTUAL TOURIS !!!
hmmm..well most chances ....
i for example , am still alive and kicking.... meybe because god likes me .... or meybe the buffelo i met was a gay / pacifist / blind buffelo ....im not sure yet ....
but serously ... dont trust the gods on this one ... be carfull ..... this park has more buffelo's then ants ....
they are everywhere.... and it no myth , they DO attack visitors ....
dont play with your luck ...
There is a plethora of wildlife all over Yellowstone. Nobody who visits here can complain about not seeing any animals. However, one must be cautious while observing many animals, especially bears, bison, and elk. Dangerous incidents aren't very common, but can happen at any time, especially when people venture too close. Respect the animals in the park and try not to interfere with their environment. Enjoy their presence from a distance, binoculars are great!