Contributing from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Experience Wildlife in Yellowstone - Safely
In my opinion-that-is-based-on-fact, being safe in Yellowstone is one of the highest responsibilities of a visitor. One of the most frustrating things about working here is seeing someone getting too close to a wild animal. Not only are you endangering yourself you’re endangering that animal. Park Service states to stay 100 yards (that’s 75 feet or one blue whale for you sea-faring folks) from bears and wolves and 25 yards from everything else. Sometimes I informedly reprimand visitors I see getting too close and other times I secretly hope they get head butted (not injured.. just a little stunned.. Did you see the video on NatGeo of the lady getting charged by an elk? Here’s what not to do). She’s very lucky this wasn’t a bull elk with a full rack. She could have just as easily died. When an animal, especially a bear, injures someone that bear may be tracked, trapped, and killed by Park Service. Think about the animal before you get out of your car for a selfie.
Read the park newspaper that the ranger hands you at the entrance. Please. Read it. Did you see the video of the guy harassing the bison? Don’t do it. Just don’t. That man was arrested a few days later on August 3rd and is still in jail awaiting a hearing in 3 weeks. NPS doesn’t mess around with incidents like this. Don’t be that guy. (initial press release: here. Updated press release: here.)
Photo Credit of Park Newspaper: NPS, 2018.
Yellowstone Live aired on NatGeo this past week. They highlighted a lot of wildlife safety which made me so happy if other things did not. Don’t get me wrong- overall, they did a great job, but it seemed a little “thrown together.” I’ve heard amazing things about their show Safari Live so this was kind of disappointing. And as much as I wanted to be mad that they got footage of wolves via a chopper (I was worried the helicopter would startle and intrude on the wolves) the pups were so damn cute I couldn’t resist a “D’OHH! Look at that pupper!”
So, this is your public service announcement for the week: Read your park newspaper, follow the laws regarding safe distances from wild animals, don’t get out of your car/stop your vehicle in the middle of the road for an animal on the side of the road; hike in groups (and stay on designated boardwalks!), carry bear spray (and know how to use it!).
Don't be this guy, either.
Photo Credit: Ed Rader, WyoHighCountry