Wildlife, Yellowstone National Park
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).
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.
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.
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.
The website below is an instructional video on bear spray. There is a demonstration on how to use bear spray toward the end of the video.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 ...
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.