• My latest book available in paperback and eBook formats

  • Available from Amazon paperback or Kindle

  • Updated w/double blind study results. Ebook or paperback

  • New updated edition available NOW!

  • Recent Posts

  • Tracking Footprints

  • Archives

  • Top Posts

  • Pages

Techno danger for Yellowstone Wildlife

I’ve become aware of a new concern for Yellowstone Ecosystem wildlife.  A few weeks ago a friend visited and told me this story.  He’s been coming to YNP for over 40 years and is a responsible person who knows how to handle himself properly around wildlife in the park.

In January we were driving through Lamar Valley when we encountered some bison crossing the road.  We stopped the car and turned off the engine to let them pass.  I usually never film with my phone, but for some reason I began filming these bison.  Suddenly one large male turned on us and attacked the car, causing $2000 worth of damage.  All recorded on my phone.  I sent the movie to some friends, then posted it on Youtube.  Overnight it went viral. A few months later I received a call from a company in England that wanted to buy the video and pay me royalties. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this would happen.  Apparently these companies purchase videos and sell them as ‘stock’ clips.

My friend wasn’t looking for fame or money, and his behavior around these bison was completely appropriate.  Yet his story clued me into why we might be seeing so many crazy, careless, and inappropriate behavior around YNP wildlife.

Bison close to car

Take this video of a young grizzly bear ‘attacking’ a car on the Beartooth highway.


It just so happens that I saw this same bear a few weeks ago and wrote about it here.


Young bear

Young bear

This same bear was frequenting the Beartooth Butte campground.  He and his young sister were captured and moved.  The WG&F Bear biologist told me that he’d never seen bear behavior like this before and that obviously these bears had been fed.  Just this week I noticed a note from a Forest Service ranger left on a parked truck at Beartooth Butte trailhead. It said they’d had to confiscate food left in the bed of the truck which might attract bears.

But my point is not that people are feeding bears.  When I saw this video I asked myself  “Why didn’t these people honk their horn, or just drive away?”

My answer came yesterday when I saw a piece of the same video again, but this time on ABC news online.  So did these people keep filming that bear, instead of doing the intelligent thing of honking their horn and scaring it off, just to have a ‘viral‘ video, and maybe make some money selling it?

This year there have been 5 bison attacks on people who came too close.  One women was taking a selfie of herself and her daughter with a bison in the background.  She was mauled by the bison, yet lucky for her not injured badly. Of course, this was simply a stupid act, but several days later I saw her interviewed on ABC.  Did she receive money for this?  From the attached link, you can see her selfie is owned by ABC.  Even if she didn’t receive money and just had her moment of TV fame, doesn’t this media attention only encourage more stupid acts that harm wildlife?

Here’s a story of a man attempting to touch a bison’s nose in Yellowstone Park last week.  

He had someone photograph him doing it.  Will he now sell his photo?

Whether these acts are for money, or just to say “we did it”, they are endangering wildlife.  Feeding bears or encouraging them to keep looking for food inside a car is a death sentence for that bear.  Those people should have used bear spray on that young bear. Then they would have taught that bear a lesson he’ll never forget.

Taking selfies with bison or other stupid acts with bison compromises years of hard work on a new Park bison plan which would allow these animals to migrate outside the Park boundary in winter months.

Our techno media-centric society needs to be educated in how these acts are a great disservice not to the public, but to our wildlife.

Keep our wilderness wild!

Keep our wilderness wild!



7 Responses

  1. Great post, Leslie! Some people will do anything to be famous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is really insidious—taking chances to get footage to sell. It may soon be time to come down hard on tourists, and to insist they stay inside cars. These are changing times. Thank you for bringing up this very important shift in behavior of humans.


  3. You raised an interesting question about the instant fame some folks get out of irresponsible behavior. I have to say I was pretty shocked at the photo of the fellow trying to touch the nose of a bison. Unfortunately the fact that this photo will now be widely seen, will only cause some folks to think the park rules can be taken lightly. I wish the news would be more responsible and not share photos like like these.


  4. I was in Yellowstone in February of this year. I thought that most people were very respectful and by that I mean did not want the animals to become too familiar with humans, so that they might keep as much WILDNESS as possible.
    We were driving out of Lamar when we saw a pickup that had been driving very slowly speed up a bit when we came over the rise. When we got closer we could see that they had dropped something that looked like watermelon in the road probably to try to get the bison to come closer. I should have reported it to a ranger. Next time I will.
    Everyone disgustingly wants their moment of fame…


  5. Great post, Leslie. Definitely brought to mind the news story of the last couple of days of a bear that poked its head through a cat door. They owner of the house had been leaving out bird food, and even leaving his door open when he left the house. His videos have been seen all over (not sure about viral), and I have little doubt of a bad ending for the bears.


  6. Very thought provoking, and I think your questions about what is motivating people to take risks points in the right direction! And when people aggravate a wild animal and then the animal behaves “like an animal,” the poor creature is sometimes moved to another location, which could be stressful, or worse, euthanized. We’ve seen this happen when people interact too closely with bears or wild cats that come down into neighborhoods looking for water. You sure have raised my awareness in this area. I think it’s worth applying some pressure asking the different television and news agencies to reconsider paying for stupidity!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: