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Hikers Encounter a Bison!

very cool!

Must have been a wilder Bison, as it just walked by the person with the camera so clse. In yellowstone every year some one gets to close to one and gets gored

This is like meeting a moose. Sure it could smush you, but chances are it'll just ignore you. You are an upright hairless rabbit as far as Mr. or Mrs. Large Ungulate is concerned. Most of the time.

Not all the time, of course. How aggressive are bison? Is it mostly a fall-rut/spring-calving thing? Or are most of the injuries people's own fault?

This happens a lot more than people realize. In northern Idaho and southern Alberta there are still some woodland bison around.

I had bison for dinner the last two nights.

There are 'domesticated' plains bison on ranches throughout Alberta. There are plains bison and about 7,000 wood bison  (not 'woodland' bison) in Elk island National Park, in northern Alberta in Wood Buffalo Park and into the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and BC. 

I was charged twice on one hike during rutting season one year and have since been more cautious about when I go into their territory. See:


I have run into them lots of times at close quarters in the forests near meadows in Yellowstone. It takes some nerve to slowly move away from them. It seems to be the people looking thru camera lenses that have the most problems. Thanks for your cautions about getting too close to them.

Common names of critters can be quite confusing. I was working with the US Forest Service Region 1 on some large timber sales in No. Idaho on roadless areas. One of their species of concern was the "woodland bison." You are correct about the Wood bison of the north, and the plains bison of the south. There is a third sub-species Bison bison pennsylvanica the eastern woodland bison which is known to be extinct in its pure form. The Forest Service and I confused them with the Wood bison.

Regardless, there ain't no woodland bison here. Woodland caribou, but no woodland bison. Wood bison weigh a tonne so it's hard to mistake them for the smaller plains bison. 

I have read that more people are hurt/killed by Bison at Yellowstone than by all other animal attacks combined. People just stupidly think of them as domesticated cows, standing around, ready to be approached.

Reminds me of Bill Bryson's account of a black bear wandering into a picnic area. The people there seemed to think this "tame" bear was safe. So they covered their infant's hand in honey to take a picture of the bear licking it off. The bear bit the child's hand off.

Don't know if that story is true or not, but it is true that most people don't know how to be around wild animals.

When I was in Denali park a ranger friend told me about a man who he approached photographing a bear (grizzly) as his wife was offering it a sandwich from her hand. When he explained to them that the bear would have killed her they said they were used to feeding bear by hand back in Yellowstone, that was in 1978.

November 30, 2020
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