Roaming Charge

The gate attendant handed us some papers as my wife and I drove into Yellowstone National Park earlier this month. Included with the park map and newsletter was a card we could hang from our rear view mirror. It was a warning to stay away from the bison and other wildlife.

Bison grazing at Old Faithful on July 6, 2010 Later that day we heard a park ranger yelling “get back” to the tourists at Old Faithful. Two bison had decided to go grazing near the geyser. That night when we got to our hotel in Missoula, I looked online and found YouTube videos of other, less content bison charging the crowd at the same spot.

A Utah couple was injured by a bison in the Biscuit Basin area of Yellowstone this week. They definitely got too close and are lucky their injuries aren’t more severe. It appears from the video that someone threw a stick at the bison, provoking the attack. What were they thinking? That Yellowstone was a huge petting zoo? That they were the next Steve Irwin?

Let me go off on a brief tangent directed at one of the local news stations in Knoxville. Yellowstone National Park is not in Utah as your on-screen graphic indicated. You were only off by about 300 miles, which would be roughly the same as saying that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was in Ohio. Please check a map.

At first, I assumed that the rangers’ warnings were to protect the bison from humans as opposed to the other way around. I had read about the number of animals killed by vehicles each year. I saw a dead bison along the road on our way to the West Yellowstone exit. The next day as we drove through the Flathead Indian Reservation to St. Ignatius, we passed under something that intrigued me.

animal crossing on Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana I took a picture of the animal bridge so I would remember to research the topic when I got home. I wanted to know how the animals learn to cross the bridge. The animal crossing is covered with dirt and grass. A long fence funnels larger animals toward the bridge. For smaller species, they have tunnels under certain roads. Next time I get curious, I will try to find out why the bison crossed the road.

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