Do NOT Approach Buffalo

I returned to work on Monday.  One nice thing about going back to work after a really great vacation is that you get to tell all of your co-workers about it.  I enjoyed doing that and everyone seemed to enjoy hearing about it too.  One thing that I learned from my co-workers was that last Friday a woman was gored by a buffalo in Yellowstone.  She was recording a video when it happened.  It is shown below.  You can even hear her speculate during the video about what will soon be her fate.

When you purchase your ticket to enter Yellowstone, you are given a map of the park, a copy of the park’s paper and a car mirror hangtag.  The mirror tag warns visitors of two common dangers that are to be found in the park.  One side deals with the danger around the geothermal areas of the park.  This side has the equation, thermal areas = thin crust and is followed by the corollary, boiling water lies beneath.  More pertinent to this discussion is the other side of this hangtag.  This side warns, many visitors have been gored by buffalo, further, buffalo can run three times faster than you can! 

Before I left work for vacation one of my co-workers warned me to lookout for those people who walk around with a big I floating over their heads.  My expression must have transmitted my lack of comprehension, because he then explained that the floating I stood for idiot and that you did not want to be near them.  I took his advice with a grain of salt, not realizing at the time how accurate his warning was.

On Anne’s and mine first day in Yellowstone we met some of those people, the ones with the floating I hovering over his head.  We were in Old Faithful basin, which is mostly traversed via raised board walks.  Remember the mirror hangtag’s first warning?  On our out bound leg, I spotted a lone buffalo in the bushes along the edge of the geothermal area that we were exploring.  We took its photo and then continued on down the boardwalk.  When we turned around and were on our way back to the car we reached a point where said buffalo had wandered very close to the boardwalk.

We elected not to attempt to run the gauntlet so to speak, but instead we doubled back and took an alternative path.  Several gentlemen, each with a floating I above their heads did run the gauntlet.  The first one to do it passed the buffalo all the while speaking to it as he would his dog, “Good boy, Good boy.”  They were more fortunate than the woman in the YouTube video.  At the very least, they were luckier than her in that no one threw anything at the buffalo as they approached.

67 thoughts on “Do NOT Approach Buffalo

  1. Good Question — why would you antagonize something that big, and that close? I have another question, relating to people with the big I floating over their heads — what is the relation between “idiot” and “id” (ala Freud)?


  2. Kudos to you for being one of the smart ones. Historically, the “I” people were killed by natural selection – because they tempted buffalo, failed to wear a seat belt, or operated a toaster in the shower. The segment of the legal profession that exists to protect them has given us, well, a lot more people with an “I” over their head. 🙂

  3. I have been to Yellowstone last June (vide: included pictures). It was my 20th visit (or so). Each time I am there I can see more and more buffalos, which is not a good thing, whatsoever. And the are more and more bears (I saw them every day). Yellowstone is getting crowded – both with peaople and animals. There should me some more restrictions to manage this problem.
    But people still will do idiotic things, like… hanging a string full of empty beer cans around the buffalo’s neck or trying to sit their child on it !!!

  4. Ah, there is no end to the idiotic behavior people exhibit toward potentionally dangerous creatures. Buffalo are magnificant animals, and would not attack unless provoked in some way. I have been priveledged to be close to them. Like any animals, they deserve respect.

  5. One of my friends owns a Bison (Buffalo) farm, and they herd them using huge tractors. You know why? Because these animals are supremely dangerous! That picture at the top just makes my stomach turn that someone would even get so close to one of these animals!
    Crazy crazy tourists.

  6. A friend and I went to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota last year, and when we were out hiking, we made sure to put at least a couple of hundred yards between us and the buffalo that were wandering around. I was so nervous when we drove down the road, came around a bend, and found ourselves in the middle of a herd of females and their calves. We drove very carefully until we were through them.

    It boggles the mind how careless people are around wild animals.

  7. Most people are worried about dogs in someone else’s yard but the same people will walk in the Buffalo’s yard?

    Perhaps these are the same people that decide to go ahead and run that red light because surely it will be fine.


  8. Reminds me of the time I was at SeaWorld and a whale jumped up by one of those observation overlooks. A guy reaches out to pet it. Yes, pet it. Thank goodness the trainer was there. She sent the whale off and turned to say, “Sir, did you ever think there was a reason they call them KILLER WHALES?” Duh.

    Glad you and the floating I stayed far away from the buffalo.

  9. Yeah, I could tell before they started analyzing this that the buffalo was kicking out before it attacked, and knew that somebody threw something at it. That big I turned into a bullseye for the buffalo, people should know better but they just don’t to leave wild animals alone and not chase after them or throw stuff at them.

  10. HAHAHAHA! I live in Cody and recently I wrote a huge blog post about avoiding the animals and what will happen if you don’t. She should have read my blog.

    I have zero sympathy for people who harrass the animals in the park. Unfortunately, many of them are put down due to human stupidity.

  11. This reminds me of a video out on youtube of a young fawn near a car and it’s being licked by a house cat. The person behind the camera starts off trying to film something cute and cudely. Soon the camera pans up and there’s the fawns mother. The fawn gets up and runs across the street to its mother. The cat casually saunters over.

    Soon the mother deer turns because it sees a dog at the end of the street. It charges the dog and using its front hooves pounds the dog. People are screaming. The woman behind the camera screams. But still filming we see the deer move off while the dog lies motionless. It then comes after the cat that’s near its fawn and tramples it under its hooves. It’s then that the filming stops.

    People just don’t realize the power a wild animal has and that it needs to be respected.

  12. I recently returned from a 12 park tour of the West, Yellowstone being one of them. Sadly the I-squad is not an isolated group offending America’s first national park, they are present and quickly multiplying throughout all of our national treasures. Scary.

    In regards to the bison itself, the animals in the park do not bother humans as so long as we do not bother them. This just another example of Man sticking his nose in a place it doesn’t belong. I’d like to throw a stick at that guy. And can someone please revoke his future park visitation privileges FOREVER.

  13. Wow Mark – again. We only got little critter sitings today, but 12,000 feet.

    Thanks Jay. Wow 12K! Did you feel shortness of breath?

  14. Yeah, those people in the video were idiots. You’re friend had great advice. Watch out for the people with the floating I. I have never heard that before, but I like the saying!

  15. I got this quote from News of the Weird back in the early 90’s. It was about a family’s long-time pet buffalo that, without warning, gored and killed a member of the family:

    “You can never trust a buffalo.”

  16. Good job on taking the alternative path! Buffalo are animals I wish not to piss off. There’s an animal park here in WA. where you drive your car through, stopping briefly to see and feed (with bread you purchase at the gate) the various animals – zebra, bears (behind a fence), rhino (in an enclosure), etc. The very last animal that not only roams free like the zebras, but also literally blocks the exit, are the bison. They know you have food in your vehicle and have no fear of mugging you in an unfriendly way until you deliver the goods (and you better have those goods if you want to leave!). These ruthless, large bastards are creative, not to mention intimidating.

    Yellowstone is a must on my list of places to see, but it keeps slipping further down the list every time I’m reminded of the buffalo’s.

  17. Tara, I’ve been to that same wild animal park. Those buffalo are scary, they surrounded my van and started rocking it the last time I went there. I still have scratches on the side of the van from their horns.

  18. You’d think people would be taught about animals in school and college. Instead they are
    instructed on all the things that don’t really count in the natural world. Well that is one way to control the human population, a little, but not enough. Humans, generally, when it comes to the wild, are a lot stupid, which is a shame.
    The wild, is really a wonderful place where we should feel comfortable and belong. It mothered us, and makes us sane. Towns, subways, high rises and concrete, make us insane.
    Watch any young child in the grass in a summers park, if you don’t believe that.

  19. My husband and I were just on vacation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula –black bear country. Fortunately (but unfortunately, since I really would love to see one in the woods sometime) we didn’t see any except one running across the road in front of our car, far away, during a rainstorm. I love nature and wildlife but I think the people with the “I” over their heads don’t get the “wild” in “wildlife.” It reminds me of that show “When Animals Attack”. Some people have no respect!

  20. Great post! We get the same idiotic behaviour up here in Canada in our parks. Ever heard the one about the tourists who lure the bear cub into their car so they can get a picture with their kids? Guess how that turned out. There is no substitute for stupidity, unfortunately. And to paraphrase a line from the play Race, which I recently saw: “People are stupid; some are just more stupid than others.”

  21. @ Logos Amicus : The last time some Americans had a similar view at Yellow Stone, they killed off the Indians ;p Good to see that the frontier spirit lives on. Cheers.

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  24. Stupid, stupid, stupid! How can anyone be that stupid? It’s not like she wasn’t warned.

    We have a buffalo herd in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge here in Oklahoma and since my first school field trip I’ve always heard they are dangerous, unpredictable, and extremely fast animals. The closest I’ve been to one of them was from my car at about 50 feet. I opened the car door and got out to take some pictures, but when his tail started to switch we decided to leave him alone.

    Thanks for sharing!

  25. I’d be inclined to settle with you one this subject. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to speak my mind!

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