In the aftermath of two recent bison attacks in Yellowstone National Park, some might be wondering if the park has a bison problem. But perhaps a better question is whether Yellowstone’s roughly 5,400 bison might have a people problem?
As in, people constantly violating the park’s 25-yard minimum-distance regulation, or failing to move out of the way when bison are close.
The first incident occurred May 30, involving a 25-year-old woman who was tossed into the air after approaching within 10 feet of a bison.
The second incident occurred Monday, involving a 34-year-old man whose group remained close to a bison, according to the park, after an initial charge by the animal.
Both victims were hospitalized.
A common thread related to virtually all bison attacks is that tourists are close enough to make the animals feel threatened. Thankfully, for the most part, the gargantuan critters are reasonably tolerant of even the most clueless tourists.
This was illustrated by the accompanying images, captured June 22 by a tourist from the safety of his vehicle in Hayden Valley.
Kevin Brown’s images, used with his permission, show a woman who had exited an RV and walked to within feet of a bison to capture a super-closeup. The unidentified woman was so close that she would have had no chance to protect herself if the bison suddenly charged.
One of Brown’s images, initially shared to a Facebook group page, shows the woman with her back turned to the animal, as if to underscore the absurdity of the moment.
Among the many unkind comments: “Right here was Mr. Bison’s perfect opportunity to launch her out of the park courtesy of Yellowstone Airlines. Must be in a good mood.”
Brown said the bison continued to graze and did not flinch during the encounter. Fortunately, this is the case most of the time.
But if tourists continue to act around bison as they might act around cows, painful incidents such as those mentioned above will continue to occur.