Yellowstone tourist is no ‘bison whisperer,’ just reckless

·2 min read

A newborn bison refused to budge from its prone position on a road in Yellowstone National Park, and it was surrounded by several protecting cows, making the ill-advised move by one tourist from the resulting traffic jam surprising to Ron Sterbenz.

The incident occurred on May 13 on Grand Loop Road in the northern tier of Yellowstone.

As cars began lining up at the road block, Sterbenz recorded video footage of the stubborn bison calf. But then a man in the third vehicle astonished him by getting out and walking toward the front vehicle and the bison, making the animals restless.

“We have spent 10-plus years in the park and only twice I have seen bison just lay down, sleep and refuse to move,” Sterbenz told USA Today/For The Win Outdoors. “They had been there for about 20 minutes, and while you might encroach with a truck on a young bull or cow, cows with a new calf is a different story. These ladies can be a bit understandably unpredictable.

Also on FTW Outdoors: Cute pups from Yellowstone wolf pack disrupt traffic control

“When the gent got out of the car, I was surprised and waited to see his bison whisperer skills. Not a risk I would have taken. Some cows might have been willing to move, but if the calf wasn’t going to that could end with a charge by one of the cows, and she could snap in a few seconds and rushed him.”

Yellowstone National Park advises tourists to remain at least 25 yards from bison and never approach them. The gentleman might have been 25 yards, but it was risky behavior walking toward them, especially considering cows were protecting a young one.

Fortunately, the calf was eventually persuaded to get up, prompting the man to run back to his vehicle. The calf laid down again but soon got up and joined its mother, and the herd vacated the road, allowing traffic to return to normal.

“What makes Yellowstone amazing is the wildness of the land and its animals,” Sterbenz told For The Win Outdoors. “I think people fail to realize they can be unpredictable and always wild—the exact reasons we are all fascinated by the park and its creatures.”

Even the two-legged variety.

Photo courtesy of ViralHog.

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