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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hey - Don't Wreck It for the Rest of Us!

We visited Yellowstone National Park last year and we weren’t home long before there were TV news reports of bison charging people. It didn’t surprise me, having seen how some tourists act around them.

The landscape in Yellowstone is awesome and, sometimes, includes wild animals. Don’t worry about missing an animal near the roadway as you drive along; traffic comes to a complete stop if there's anything to see. Since bison don’t usually stroll through our neighborhood, we were happy to stop, too. However, some tourists didn’t take as much precaution as I would with a stray dog.
There was a mother with several young children, crouched behind a bush to get a closer look at one bison munching away on the other side. Did she think that bush would provide protection if he decided he really wanted to be alone while he ate? At another section of the park, people walked on a boardwalk while, a few feet away, a bison ambled along beside it. We thought maybe they knew bison don’t like to walk on boards. Wrong! The beg fella just stepped right on up and over to the other side - after using the boardwalk for a chin scratch.
I think we're safe up here, don't you?
Ahh, that feels good!






Bison are magnificent animals, easily ascertained from the relative safety of your car; you don’t need to get out and examine them. Young men seem to have an uncontrollable urge to leave their vehicles and walk beside bison - at least we kept seeing them do that. Are they performing some age-passage ritual? This behavior could have had a real impact on us since we were stuck in the gawking traffic. If the bison had become agitated and charged, we would have been collateral damage since, at the time, we were sitting in our tow car which is probably smaller than most of the bison in direct line of impact.

One day, as we drove to different geothermal sites, we came to an area full of deserted trucks and equipment. Everything looked like it had been quickly abandoned, which it had been, due to a “buffalo” break. One big bison had wandered over to check out the job they were doing and the workers quickly got out of his way. Now, if people who are in the park daily and see these animals on a regular basis scramble for cover, shouldn’t tourists?

Garrett & Peyton demonstrate the safe way to approach wildlife - in the museum.
  Many people who get “up close and personal” with the wildlife, usually do so to get a better picture. With today’s cameras and computer programs, just how close do you need to be to get a “good shot?”

Archie knows the only wildlife
you should approach. 



The news clip stated that the stomped-on camera-holder, the recipient of one charge, was on the mend, thankfully, but mentioned there had been three other recent bison attacks in Yellowstone, each one a result of tourist actions. Considering the number of people who cruise through there each year, that is actually a relatively small number. However, any violent run-ins between wildlife and humans are going to make an impact on innocent bystanders who happen to be there and see it. So, please, think before you get out of your car; don’t wreck it for the rest of us.

All pictures of bison displayed in this blog were taken from a safe distance in my car.

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