Monday, July 26, 2010

Visitors Injured By Wildlife In National Parks

Just last week CNN Headline News featured a viewer video of a woman being chased and struck by a bison at Yellowstone National Park.  In the video you can see that the bison is meandering across a paved parking lot minding his own business when a friend of the woman keeps approaching closer and closer to get a better look.  The woman, even knowing better, followed her friend to get a better video.

To view the video in its entirety, go to the YouTube link below:

You will note in the video that the bison gave several warnings that he was uncomfortable with the approach of humans.  First he tried to move away and place a tree line between the threat and himself.  When the person still came on through the trees the bison then lifted his head and looked at him with his head moving up and down.  The bison then kicked his heals up lowering his head and the woman still kept filming him.  Finally the wild animal stressed by the perceived threat had to revert to flight or fight mode.  Since the threat had kept moving toward him even after he attempted to calmly make flight from the area he most likely felt he had no choice but to fight and attack.

These same behaviors can been seen in any wildlife you may encounter in a National Park whether it is a bison, bear, deer, or chipmunk.  Always give wildlife their space.  Revel in the opportunity to view animals in their native habitat, but do not crowd or stress them into instinctual reactions.

This incident once again illustrates the lesson I have told several times on this blog and in my book, "A Park Ranger's Life", that park visitors should always enjoy viewing wildlife from afar.

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