In a recently released report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers came to what seems to be a pretty obvious conclusion: the bison in Yellowstone Park do not care for folks with cell phones.
While I say that with somewhat of a comical demeanor, the bison are not to blame.
Here are two facts:
- American bison are the largest terrestrial mammals in the Western Hemisphere
- Since 1980 bison have injured more pedestrian visitors in Yellowstone than any other animal
Having armed you with these two pieces of information alone, I would hope it would be enough to dissuade you from approaching one of these animals.
Yet, this report highlighted the five instances were bison caused bodily harm to pedestrians who, for the most part, got much closer than prescribed by the National Park Service.
As you can see, not one of these people was anywhere close to the 75 foot required distance for observing bison in Yellowstone.
Between the years of 1980 and 1999 there were 35 bison encounters with humans and a large portion of them (29%) involved photography, much the same as we are seeing in 2015’s numbers.
We’ve gotten slightly bolder.
Between 1980 and 1999 the majority of the people were more than 10 feet away from the bison, which obviously is still far too close. Fast forward to 2015 and we have moved to within 3-6 feet of these unforgiving creatures with our cell phones in hand.
Now I’ am not going to come out and call any of these folks stupid or anything like that. Someone suffering any sort of injury is not funny in my books, particularly if they were gored by a bison.
That being said, I have to come to some sort of conclusion as to why we are acting this way. I believe humans, for the most part, are either paying less attention to advice and directions or are just so unbelievably uneducated when it comes to wild animals.
It’s something my old man taught me when I first set out into the woods. He taught me to respect my equipment, the elements and most importantly, the animals that inhabited those woods. If there was something I didn’t know about the game I was pursuing or other animals I might come across, I made sure to have at least a Coles Notes-level education on them before messing around in their backyard.
To me, I am surprised. Whether or not I should be anymore, I can’t say.
What I do know is hunters are innately equipped with this common sense and I hope that the growing voice of the hunting community can aid in educating more folks about the animals we pursue, admire and cherish.